Baby Einstein videos have been under fire for the last few years. Where once they were considered educational to children, they are now being said to cause Autism (yes you read that right). Disney (who now owns baby Einstein) even offered a refund to people who wanted it.
In a quote from Psychology Today regarding this video series, "research has found that, although infants become engrossed in these videos, they offer no intellectual benefit"
And on a blog called "Dr. Clark's Brain Based Blog", this Dr. talks about how any screen media is harmful to children, especially children with an ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder), and how they should be avoided at all costs. He says it entrances them, not engages them.
As a mother of an autistic son, who, as a baby/toddler/pre-schooler was non-verbal, troubled, and difficult to live with, I have to disagree with both of these ideas.
Having something we could count on to help keep Caleb grounded when we were entering into "freak out" territory (especially during the Christmas season, and visiting so many people), was priceless. A child with Autism has a life that is constant stress, and to find something that clearly helps him to relax, sit and smile, and even (gasp!) zone out a little is, in my opinion, worth it's weight in gold.
Caleb first watched "Baby McDonald", a Baby Einstein video about farming, at around 12 months, and he was enthralled. But, more than that, he was excited! He spent a lot of time with me outside teaching horseback riding lessons, and he was learning the words to all the things he was seeing, only in a fun, relaxed way.
Caleb can recite poetry from Shakespeare, Tennesee Williams, and Robert Frost (among others) because of the videos (and reinforcement from the books). He hears and recognizes classical music from composers such as Bach, Beethoven, Grieg, Mozart, and many others. All from watching the videos. No intellectual benefits? I'm no researcher for Psychology Today, but I'd say those things are intellectually beneficial.
There is a catch though....he watched them, in large part, with us.
The Baby Einstein videos were meant to be used "as an interactive tool" (as creator, former teacher, and stay-at-home Mom) Julie Aigner-Clark says in the opening of some of the older videos. As a parent, we are given our children to raise the best we can. Mentally, physically, spiritually, emotionally, in all ways. And sometimes (aka-most times!), that requires some help. If a video is something that I can use as an "interactive tool" (interactive meaning I am also involved, and interacting), than I will use it. Did I use it as a child-minder sometimes? Yup, I sure did! Momma needed a shower once in a while!
The idea that an extremely complex disorder like Autism can be caused by a child's video is as ridiculous as when they first thought Autism was caused by "refrigerator mothers" (mom's who appeared cold towards their child). P.S. What they found in later years was that Mothers appeared cold because they didn't know how to be loving to a child who couldn't let them into their world. Perhaps in a few years some brilliant scientists will discover that, instead of Baby Einstein causing Autism, kids who already had it just liked the videos because they are not fast-paced, have pleasant music, a calming narrative, and structured lessons. Just a thought.
Being a parent requires some sense, and if you feel something your child does is harmful to them, work on stopping it. But if something that your child clearly loves and is learning from is suddenly under attack for being "bad" in some way....use your sense. Don't just jump on the bandwagon mindlessly. Evaluate your situation, educate yourself, and watch your child.
Most of all, don't let it make you feel guilty. When people tell me (and they still do), "Oh, your son liked Baby Einstein? Did you know they found out it causes Autism?", I could feel guilty. "What? I caused my son's Autism that now effects every single thing he does, at every single moment of the day, and will effect him for the rest of his life? Not to mention the impact it has had on our whole family! I did that? With a video?" I could feel guilty and stay up at night wondering if I "gave" Caleb his Autism because I let him watch Baby Einstein as a young, impressionable boy...but I won't.
Don't let other people who don't know you, or your child, or your situation tell you what you caused, or how you caused it. Trust yourself as a parent, and fix it, or move on.
Caleb no longer watches Baby Einstein. Why? Because he's nine years old, and that would be ridiculous! It was meant for a season in his life, and I would consider it's worth in regard to reducing his stress, and educating him, invaluable. I wouldn't trade the times he watched it for anything. Not even a refund.
Hi, I'm Amy-Lyn!
I am the lady behind this here blog! I live in the sticks with my animals, my super handsome husband, and my
3 amazing kids!
Here you'll find things from recipes (gluten-free, paleo, and strait up junk food!), DIY ideas, thoughts on raising a son with autism, and whatever else pops into my brain! : )
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