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Children With Autism and Thomas the Tank Engine
Over the years, parents, educators, and therapists have witnessed anecdotal evidence of the special relationship between Thomas the Tank Engine and children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Whereas the typical child gravitates toward brightly colored, cheerful little engines, the autistic child displays a very strong affection for the characters. In 2002 and 2007, the National Autistic Society (NAS) in Great Britain investigated whether there really was a special relationship between autistic children and Thomas the Train. We conducted a survey to determine. The results of these studies provided a surprisingly long list of reasons for special friendships, but not everyone endorses them. Is there?
A 2000 New York Post article, “Children with Autism Connect with Thomas,” made public the observations of parents, therapists, and teachers. In 2002, a very limited study conducted by the UK NAS suggested that a special relationship does indeed exist between Thomas and children with autism spectrum disorders, and showed why. I was. In interviewing 81 parents of her with autistic children under the age of 10, 57% of the children connected with Thomas before other child characters, and her more than neurotypical siblings. It turns out that I have been interested in Thomas for two long years. Of her 33% of children with autism, she had an “obsessive” relationship with a Thomas character.The reason for the unique relationship between an autistic child and Thomas the Tank Engine was determined by the study: it was done.
1. Calm and clear narration of the story
2. Clear and exaggerated “signposts” that signal change
3. Easy-to-understand, predictable storyline
4. Still images/Landscapes
5. Bold Colors, Ease of Text Recognition
6. Exaggerated and legible facial expressions
7. Model Accuracy
8. Predict the roles of various characters
9. Collectable Nature of Objects
A 2007 study conducted by the same organization, expanded to 748 parents with children under the age of 10 on the autism spectrum, reached surprisingly similar results.
Children with autism commonly suffer from sensory processing disorders that make it difficult and overwhelming to process information they take in from the world around them. A major theme in the list of reasons why these children are drawn to Thomas Train revolves around the simplicity of the characters and the story. The bright primary colors and predictable storylines all help limit the sensory impact of toys, books, and videos. However, some disagree on the validity of the study and why Thomas is attracted to children with autism.
Skepticism and alternative explanations
The UK NAS acknowledged that the results of the 2002 and 2007 studies were not scientifically valid, but some argue that the results are not valid. One blogger said the statistics from the two studies are unlikely to be incredibly similar and therefore unreliable. Another of his criticisms voiced was the apparently mutually beneficial relationship between his NAS in the UK and Hits Entertainment, which owns the Thomas brand. However, some suggest that similar results between studies are a natural result of the social sciences and actually help strengthen the validity of the results. As to the UK NAS and Hit Entertainment corroboration, it can be argued that this is merely an example of organizations with common interests coming together for the benefit of the communities they serve. Hit Entertainment, 2009 and Autism Speaks brokered the relationship for similar reasons.
As for why autistic children like Thomas the Tank Engine, some say it’s simply because autistic children like lining up toys and trains in general are well suited for this activity. Another thought is that little boys, autistic or not, enjoy toys that they can break, crash and fall over. Trains can derail and fall off bridges. However, many parents reported that their children with autism were drawn to Thomas Brand trains in particular, rather than all trains, and that their children would simply line them up instead of crashing into them. I’m here.
Some critics have argued that all child characters have simplistic facial expressions and emotions, and Thomas’ character’s facial expressions are no more autism-friendly than any other. has pointed out that it is unique to the Thomas series that the characters’ facial expressions are set and cannot be seen when they change. appears again, he frowns. The viewer does not witness the change in facial expression from smiling to frowning. This makes the emotions more simplistic than other children’s shows. Children with autism have trouble reading facial expressions and identifying emotions reflected in facial expressions, so this additional simplification makes it easier to follow Thomas’ story. . One parent described the difference between Thomas and Friends and other children’s shows: With simple music, sets, unanimated faces, and a single narrator, you can’t even compare how different Thomas is from other well-thought-out corporate shows today.
Listening to parents and therapists of children with ASD, it’s undeniable that Thomas has a way of bonding and drawing out these children unlike other children’s characters.
How Thomas helps children with ASD
Observations and testimonies of parents, therapists, and educators of children with autism regarding Thomas the Tank Engine strongly support the NAS findings. Many parents believe the Thomas character gets their children with ASD to talk, understand emotions, and teach them about colors and numbers. As one parent said:
Thomas has been found to motivate children with ASD to continue working in therapy and at school. used for As one parent explained: After another train ride at age 2 and a half, she began using my homemade flash cards and trains to improve her language and communication skills. Until age six, Thomas was my son’s only toy. All holidays, birthdays, rewards, and incentives were based on Thomas.
true blue friend
The adorable Thomas the Train character is sure to be a hit with all types of kids. However, the strength of the connection that children on the autism spectrum have with their characters seems unique in many ways. Researchers, parents, and therapists have offered many ideas as to why these children are drawn to the Thomas character, but perhaps the “why” doesn’t matter. Some of the hardest kids to connect with and teach are these kids responding to Thomas. Many agree that Thomas really is a “really helpful” engine when it comes to children with autism.
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