Ever since I used Baby Mozart as a crutch to get us through dental work, Audrey has gotten re-addicted to this video. We’ve been through this before: I weaken and let her have something that I know is like crack to her, then she has to go through withdrawal all over again as it gets squirreled back away with all of the other forbidden fruit. So far, this system has worked fine. At worst I had to endure a couple of days of whining/DT’s, but she always got over it.
But as of a couple of weeks ago, I am no longer the sole supplier of her fix. She has discovered YouTube. If her favorite videos are like a drug, then YouTube is the giant crack house where the doors are always open and the drugs are always free.
I thought that I knew that you could find videos of just about anything on YouTube, but I didn’t really know it until Audrey started using it. She has managed to find videos of escalators going up and down, chicks hatching, snow globes spinning, some annoying Yoko Ono-like singer performing "Twinkle Twinkle" in primal scream mode, a hybrid video of the Teletubbies riding in the Wiggles’ Big Red Car, dirty Dora parodies, and countless other oddities. I'm quite sure that there is a video out there to indulge every autistic child's every obsession.
My first response was to use parental controls to block her from YouTube altogether, but I could not believe the obscure websites that she found to get around the system. One day I walked in the room to find her watching a video of a mother giving a review of Baby Mozart while the video played on her TV in the background. So I blocked her from that site. Then she found some Chinese website advertising Baby Einstein. Then it was the video sites within Google and Yahoo. Before I knew it, I had ten sites on the blocked list.
Our home-therapy consultant finally recommended that I not go the prohibition route, especially since she would have free access to YouTube on the computers at school. She suggested that we try a little shame game, although I'm sure that she never in a million years would call it that. She made a chart and wrote a social story distinguishing between videos that are for 2 years vs. 4 year olds vs. 6 year olds. You can see Audrey reading the story in the video below.
She doesn't even know some of the characters included, like Hannah Pootanna and Caillou. You could argue with some of our categorizations, but that would make you super weird. The important thing is that Baby Einstein is in the 2 year old column, and 6 year olds do not watch videos made for 2 year olds.
I don't think that shame works for autistic kids quite like it does for typical kids. The bigger hammer is that we just make her get off the computer immediately if we find her watching anything Baby Einstein-related. So far, so good, but like all recovering addicts she is having difficulty looking at herself in her Melissa-and-Doug-Decorate-Your-Own-Princess Mirror and admitting that she has a problem.