Like it or not, Janey watches a lot of videos. I don't like it, but I also recognize it's a very common thing for autistic kids to like to do, and I can see why in a way. They are completely predictable---she knows what will be said and what will happen. They are a low pressure way to learn language and social situations---no-one is questioning her or pointing out lessons. And they entertain her, in a way that toys don't. It frustrates me that it's so much harder to get her interested in a book than a video, but I can see why, from her perspective. I read the books a little differently each time. I won't read the book over and over and over. The pictures don't move. I think much of why I don't like the videos is my own vision of what I want my kids to like. I always had visions of myself as the mother of kids who read constantly, who loved to play with creative blocks and dolls and could entertain themselves for hours with a book of mazes. Hah. My boys were not big TV watchers and still aren't (Freddy barely ever watches TV) but they weren't into what I wanted them to be into, and neither is Janey. William at Janey's age drew pictures of trains all day, and set up his Brio train tracks. Freddy, then as now, played computer and video games. Both of them are great students, so I guess whatever harm was done by them not wanting to read all day wasn't too severe. But I still have the dream image of what I want my kids to like.
That being said, Janey learns more from the videos than almost any source. She has four current favorites. First, Kipper. Kipper is a fantastic British series about a dog and his friends. It's very low key, low graphics, easy to follow, simple stories, nice music. In many way, perfect for a child with autism. A newer favorite is Pingu. If you have Netflix, check out Pingu! It's claymation, about a penguin, and the talking is Charlie Brown Grownup style---a nonsense language. But you can tell exactly what the characters are saying anyway. I think Janey loves it that the people aren't talking in a way she has to try to understand---she can just focus on the neat moviemaking and the little stories. She also loves The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That. We watch it also on Netflix, and there are only 4 episodes so far (with 2 parts to each, so 8 stories). Janey only likes 2 of the episodes, so we have gotten to know those VERY well. They are science related, although I don't think she notices that. But the Cat talks in rhyme and there is a lot of repetition, which she seems to greatly enjoy. The last favorite of hers is a mystery to me. It's Angelina Ballerina. It doesn't have any of the traits that I would think would make her like it---it's talk-heavy, with storylines that are very big on social situations, like getting in fights with friends. The graphics are busy. But go figure---she loves it, and quotes it a lot. Maybe that's a good sign---maybe it's her way of trying to figure out what's going on with the girls around her. She tends to bring up lines from it when she's upset, like a line Angelina says about lying. The characters overemphasize emotions, and that might draw her in---there's no doubt if someone is upset or angry or happy.
I try hard to get Janey to watch other things, and she does occasionally---a few singing Sesame Street videos, a Pooh song video, a Disney Princess sing-a-long---you see the theme there.
And of course I keep pushing books. I read to her every minute she will tolerate. She likes nursery rhymes best, and I have collected many, many books of those. Some day, I am determined, books will come first! She's my last hope for a kid like that!