Besides having autism showcased in a variety of movies (such as Rainman), movies themselves have had significant links to autism therapy. Although it’s true that children with autism require significant therapeutic interaction, TV and videos can actually help children with autism learn. One example I previously tweeted about is about Hayao Miyazaki’s movie, Ponyo. Ponyo, in brief, is a magical goldfish that one day emerges out from the ocean and begins to learn human interactions and what it means to be human, but is “not always hitting the mark” (as the author of this interesting blog post regarding the movie Ponyo and autism mentions).
This weekend, I had the opportunity to watch James Cameron’s, Avatar in 3D. Besides the very predictable plot, I found this movie to be an incredible movie filled with beautiful sceneries, landscape and life. Without giving away too much of the movie, Avatar shared a similar theme with Ponyo about learning how to interact, but it also showcased enrapturing graphics that I can only describe as “sensory therapy”. The computer graphics, sound, and choreography of every movement was so well thought out, it felt like I was living inside the movie. The lights, sound and movement, were very auditory and visually stimulating; I was glued to my seat in the theater for a whole 3 hours without flinching. This gets back to my original point on autism. Auditory and visual teaching have often been touted as the ideal forms of teaching for children with autism, as people with autism tend to learn best with their eyes and ears when words might not do the trick. While it’s true therapeutic interactions are necessary for children with autism, the use of TV and movies can also help stimulate. Much like the experience of a Snoezelen room, the immersion into the beautiful world of Avatar, or watching a movie like Ponyo, different auditory and visual stimuli can help someone with autism learn.
Check this link out for another great read on good reasons children with autism should be allowed to watch TV and videos.