Gadgets and Autism: A Personal Observation

8:08 AM

Autism Spectrum Disorder

According to Medscape, manifests in early childhood and is characterized by qualitative abnormalities in social interaction, markedly aberrant communication skills, and restricted repetitive behaviors, interests, and activities.

For the past decade autism has been widely linked to VACCINATIONS. Thanks to the graduates of University of Facebook, University of Google and most importantly a not so bright scientist. the link between vaccination and autism is so great that some parents refuse vaccines even though they smoke in front of their kids, feed them junk food and let them play with mercun bola! Never mind that the kids can get chronic lung disease, predisposition to obesity and losing a limb.

I am NOT a credited scientist or specialist. I have not done any studies yet. But from my short term observation for the past TWO years, I have seen some link between CHRONIC, UNRESTRICTED use of smartphones and autism....well, not really autism but perhaps pseudo-autism (please correct me if I am wrong...with facts). 

Neee-noooo, neee-nooooo....there goes a siren of controversy! I can already hear some people say;

"Mana ada, anak I ni OK je....entah apa-apa doktor ni. Tak vogue la kalau tak boleh kasi anak tablet!"

Let's go through some scenarios.


At the clinic, a parent brings their almost 2 1/2 years old son complaining that their boy can't talk. They say he can memorize ABC, 123 and even some Barney songs. But he won't interact with the parents and other siblings. I couldn't get a thing out of the boy when all of a sudden, the boy went to the father and took out the father's smartphone.Then he was all to himself. Not once did he lift up his face to see my face after countless of times calling his name.

"Dia pandai doktor. Tengok ni, dia boleh buka phone saya sendiri!"

When I first mentioned the word AUTISM, the first word I got was "MANA ADA!".

The key word for AUTISM is a child living in HIS OWN WORLD. When they deviate from the norm they will become difficult to handle. Lets take a look at the M-CHAT, a tool to screen for risk of autism so that autism can be detected early and be treated properly. Early intervention is the key!

I have highlighted the items that are of interest to me when I saw the patient. (You can give it a try at He does seem to have a risk of getting autism. I would want to refer him to a pediatrician as early as possible for early intervention. Does your child have similar features?


This scenario happened to my own child. She was 1 1/2 years. I thought maybe I should get her a tablet. It would be wonderful, I thought. She would be exposed to the wonderful world of Barney and Friends. She would be able to read and sing along...that was just in theory.

Within days, she got attached to the tablet. The first thing she does when she wakes up is get the tablet. The last thing she does is using the tablet. In the car, she just wants the tablet. Whenever I want to take it away she would scream her lungs out. She would throw things all over the place. Until one day she broke the screen. She just jumped on it when I didn't want to turn it on. That was RM 600 (screen replacement) down the drain. The lesson I learned from that incident is worth more than RM 600.

Did she learn to memorize her ABC?........yes.
Did she sing along to the songs?................yes.
Is she talking to me?
Is she interacting with her surrounding?

Did I feel happy as a father?...................NO!

I did get to do some work when I got back from work. I managed to get some rest at home. But this wasn't what I wanted. I had NO interaction with my daughter. My wife and I spent close to a month having to face her tantrums. She would plead for us to give her the tablet, screaming at the top of her lungs. It was like some sort of drug to her. After a while, life got daughter got better.

Instead of depending on the tablet, we got her tons of story books. Thank God for the Big Bad Wolf book sales. At night instead of staring at the tablet screen, we would read story books together. In the afternoon, whenever I get the time my wife and I would bring her to the park. Yes, I feel a bit more tired at night. I get body aches a lot as she loves to treat me like a big moving playground. But I feel happy.

Nowadays, when I go balik kampung I see scenes which reminds me of the the 1980's The Gods Must Be Crazy. You know (if you are old enough), the opening scene where a Coke bottle fell from the airplane and the tribe people find much use for it. And eventually they had to fight one another to use it....yup, kids would hit each other for a chance to use the tablet!

Autism is no small matter. It takes a great deal of effort and a lot of time to observe a child and diagnose a child with autism. It is a stigma, even taboo to some people. Even when health professionals diagnose a child with autism and initiates early intervention, most will default and go to a bomoh instead, claiming that the cause of the behavior is due to kena rasuk jin. When the child gets older, he or she will just be labelled as "difficult" child and neglected although early intervention can do wonders.

My advice to all parents is to put that tablet or smartphone away. Don't expose your child too early to all these gadgets. You may think that you can control your child but it can be VERY difficult. I thought I could do it but I was wrong. I am glad that I have a wonderful wife to help bring back my child back from the "dark side". I couldn't have done it without her. Let kids be kids. Let them jump, get a scratch every now and then. Its what they are supposed to do...not sit in one corner and immerse themselves playing games.

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  1. Agreed.. observed it a lot during Raya.. too many kids with temper tantrum and little respect towards elder people.. but what i observed some times, parents are the one made it worse by just allowing that kind of behaviour when we would have been 'smacked down' by our parent last time if we act the same.. well, newer generation and we just have to adapt and affect changes if necessary..

  2. Sy tak bagi pun anak sy gadget pd awal umurnya tp anak sy diagnose jugak as autism..moderate to severe..n after focus improve,alhamdulillah sy mula introduce gadget utk ajar dia byk bnda sbb autism ni visual learner..makin cpt progresnya..cuma sy mmg limit kn masa n choose apps utk, sy rasa kat sini takpe nk bg gadget as long as bukan sepanjang masa or sebab penat nak layan anak..

    1. But entry ni seperti awk blame on parents bila mana anak autism = sbb parent bg gadget or parenting skill tak bgus mcm scenario 1..

    2. But entry ni seperti awk blame on parents bila mana anak autism = sbb parent bg gadget or parenting skill tak bgus mcm scenario 1..

    3. Maaf puan. Seperti saya katakan, ini hanyalah pemerhatian saya sahaja. Setakat ini tiada direct correlation antara autism & gadgets.
      Cuma pada hemah saya, eloklah kita elakkan gadget dari awal. Komponen utama yang akan terkesan kepada anak adalah komponen social interaction.

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