A 2006 study by researchers from Cornell University in New York showed the probable link between early exposure of children to television (TV) viewing and autism.

According to the study, exposing toddlers to two or three-dimensional stimuli could be harmful to early brain development because over-absorption of colorful images during the first three years of life may cause an abnormality in the visual processing areas of the brain.

Autism is a developmental disability which results from a disorder of the central nervous system. According to Dr. Charissa Rañesses, a psychotherapist from the Psychotrauma Department of the Thomas Aquinas Research Center, it manifests before the age of three and can be diagnosed through patent medical criteria for impairments to social interaction, communication, and imagination.

The study reported that American states with high subscription rates to cable TV and where children watched TV for more than four hours have the highest registered estimates of autistic children.

However, Michael Waldman, one of the study’s authors, clarified that they are not claiming to have found the cause of autism. He said that their study is only a critical piece of evidence that can be used to better understand the disorder.

According to Rañesses, there are currently no Philippine studies that directly link television as a cause of autism, but there are studies which prove that watching TV in excess may be dangerous.

“We are not sure yet if early exposure of children to TV causes autism, but too much TV may induce seizures in children, as proven by Japanese scientists,” Rañesses said.

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The Behavioral Management for Autistic Children Foundation, Inc. (BMACFI) recently reported that one in every 500 Filipino children has autism. This accounts for 60,000 autistic children in the country.

BMACFI also stated that of the total number of autistic children in the Philippines, only less than five percent are being provided with appropriate intervention. Francis James B. Gatdula with reports from www.foxnews.com and www.slate.com

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