Thursday, October 19, 2006

Autism: TV Implicated in Rise

This is interesting research. Color me skeptical. To me, this research demonstrates an interesting corrolation. But it brings up a chicken-egg, causality problem.

For example, my autistic son loves to veg out in front of TV. He loved to when he was little, too. He hardly ever watched TV. We showed him videos for a treat. He certainly wasn't glued to the tube, although he would have loved to be if we had let him.

Another interesting thing: when he watched the TV for extended time, it was like his head heated up. This is with the old tube TVs not the new flatscreen ones. The old ones emit huge amounts of EMFs (electromagnetic fields) even when off. The new flat screens don't.

When he watches the old TV even today, his face flushes and he zones more. When he watches the flat screen that doesn't happen so much. Hmmmm.... I wonder what the deal is with the TV.


David said...

Why would a TV picture-tube emit EMF when it's off?

Dr. Melissa said...

Any electrical equipment, when plugged in, still emits EMFs. There is electricity in the chord.

One of the more alarming examples is a curling iron. The chord will sometimes feel hot to the touch even when off.

To not emit any EMFs a TV must be completely unplugged.

Anonymous said...

You can see it. In a completely-dark room, the TV screen will emit a very faint glow.

David said...

DrM, the warmth in the cord is left over from the heat generated by the resistance while power was flowing through it. The faint low of the screen is from the phosphorous on the screen face, and has nothing to do with any source of electricity.

Small amouts of power may be used by a turned-off TV for the control circuits, but I'm fairly confident that the picture-tube drivers, which energize the magnets, are not powered. There wouldn't be any point in it.

David said...

Regarding the broader issue, I do think that video screen have some sort of strange attraction for people. A couple of years ago, I was talking with a flight instructor, who was teaching in new Cessnas with large display screens. He said many students had a hard time keeping their eyes off the screen and out the windshield (where they belong) even during landing approach.

Dr. Melissa said...

I wasn't talking about EMFs from the Tube after it's turned off. I'm just saying there is stil juice in the wiring.

The worst room my son could be in had computers and a tubed TV. It was the worst. My brother called the room NORAD. I won't tell you who the room belonged to, but everyone left it with a headache.

My son was mesmerized in there.

Joseph said...

FYI, I've posted a critique here.

Stephen said...

Thank you for the link. I read the critique. It seems spot on. While the analysis is skewed, I do think the hypothesis--that TVs trigger, cause, exacerbate--autism is worthy of further research.

Observing my son (purely anecdotal) has at least proven to me a corrolation between more "spaced out" behavior when watching TV. Of course, that might be able to be said about all children--neurotypicals as well as autistic.

Teri said...

My severely autistic son did not start watching TV until he was about nine years old. He was diagnosed when he was two.

It is hard to see how his autism could be caused by the TV when he didn't even watch till seven years after he was diagnosed.