In the July issue of the Journal of Pediatrics, a study of boys with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) compared use of technology, or video games, with use by ADHD boys and the general pediatric male population. Participants ranged in age from 8 to 18.
The results showed that boys with autism and ADHD spend significantly more time on technology devices, including addictive video games. In particular, inattention was strongly associated with problematic video game use for both groups. The conclusion of this study is that more research needs to be done, over a longer period of time, to understand the impact this use of technology has on these kids.
Watching lots of kids with their technology in my office, I have observed children with autism often find technology soothing, and many parents of these kids use it to teach their children novel ways to communicate and adapt to the real world around them.
Kids with ADHD also are drawn to technology, although it appears to me to be for a different reason — the rapid-fire graphics and action fit their brain’s frenetic pattern of activity. For parents of these kids, technology can be the rare activity that keeps them still and holds their attention for any length of time.
I will look forward to future research on ways in which technology can help, or hinder, kids with all types of abilities.