HOW MODERN MEDIA CAUSES AUTISM AND ADHD: It seems to me the cause of attention deficit disorder is almost
certainly heavy early television exposure during the cognitively
formative years. Think about the format of TV. Almost all TV shows
are in fact characterized by an analogue of ADD-ADHD, namely
continual quick scene switches and hyper-activity. In normal pre-TV
childhood scene switches in actual reality would typically be much
much slower, continous and generally much less emotion/activity
intense. I believe it is the continual quick switches (averaging only
a few seconds) between typically emotion intense scenes that programs
cognitively developing minds to ADD-ADHD. The correlation is very
I would extend the pernicious influence of early TV viewing during
the cognitively formative years to autism as well. Autism is
characterized by deficient ability to interact with other persons.
That is precisely the case with the characters the young formative
mind sees on TV. Interaction is never possible with the characters on
TV though it is apparent that young infants do initially attempt to
interact with them. When interaction is not possible with other
people, or characters perceived as having a degree of reality, the
personality tends to turn inward and withdraw. That is autism.
So in my view both ADD-ADHD and autism are caused primarily (there
may be other influencing factors) by heavy early television exposure
during the cognitively formative years. The large increases in both
of these disorders correlates well with the advent of heavy childhood
TV viewing. That provides considerable evidence in support of my thesis.
There could certainly be genetic components conveying a sensitivity to the effect of TV as some suggest, but TV is likely by far the primary cause of Autism and ADD-ADHD. Otherwise we would have to explain why either these genes arose widely only recently, or conversely why the incidence of autism pre-TV was so low.
There is obviously something in developing minds that make some of them more prone to these diseases than others. The strong correlation however is with TV viewing (see the graphs in my other post). Given that correlation we must identify the tv viewing itself as the main causative factor. We can then look for correlates, whether genetic, dietary, neural wiring etc.
There are a number of cultures in which TV's aren't available. I certainly haven't heard of any, if there are any, cases of Autism among the Yanomami or Bushmen. The incidence would certainly be an excellent test of my theory. Many claim that the increased incidence of Autism and ADHD is simply due to better reporting. However if the incidence of autism among Amish, Aftrican tribes etc. who did not watch TV had not changed over time that would tend to confirm my theory.
If an infant is even in the room with the TV on for long periods during the ages of early cognitive formation we would still expect the TV autism connection since it is still the constant intense scene shifting that will be much of the center of the infant's attention. It is even possible that infants in utero might be affected by the TV sound characteristics as it is known that late term infants do hear sounds from outside the mother's body.
Any one data point such as some autism in non-TV watching children doesn't falsify my theory of course. The important statistic is the great rise in the autism rate post-TV.
Here is the strong correlation between autism cases and US video programming (FCC data). I haven't located a good graph for TV hours watched by children of various ages in this time period. If anyone finds that please share it with me.
To explain ADHD by hyperthyroidism one would have to explain why hyperthyroidism has increased at roughly the same high rate as ADHD has. The contention is that that the noted thyroid problems are primarily caused by nutritional factors. Are you proposing some recent large and increasing change in US children's nutrition (iodine?) that correlates with ADHD increases? I'm not aware of any off hand.
One would expect to see multiple neurochemical and hormonal abnormalities associated with autism if it was basically a miswiring problem, since neural processes in fact regulate the concentrations of these chemicals. The fact that, as your references suggest, there are a whole spectrum of chemical abnormalities rather than just one associated with autism is supportive of a more basic mechanism such as miswiring rather than the influences of a single abnormal chemical process.
The sometimes quoted evidence of genetic or chemical causes suggests not so much a single neurochemical abnormality but a more basic neural miswiring problem producing a cascade of neurochemical imbalances. That is consistent with and even expected by my TV hypothesis.