Abstract Aim: To examine the pattern and extent of television viewing in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) compared with typically developing controls and those with delayed language development (DLD). Methods: Fifty-four individuals with ASD (mean
age 2.56 ± 0.66 years) and 84 controls (mean age 2.43 ± 0.81 years) were enrolled. Fifty-six individuals with DLD, who had language developmental levels similar to those with ASD, were enrolled in our previous study. Main outcome measures
included onset and frequency of television viewing, in addition to the type of programme and whether a caregiver cowatched television. Results: Those with ASD began to watch television significantly earlier than controls (6.44 ± 6.35 vs. 12.41 ± 6.00 months
of age, p≤ 0.0001*) and spent more time watching television than those with DLD (4.60 ± 1.91 vs. 3.05 ± 1.90 h/day, p≤ 0.0001*) and controls (4.60 ± 1.91 vs.
2.06 ± 1.21 h/day, p≤ 0.0001*). Those with ASD appeared to watch more adult programmes than normal controls, and they were less likely to watch television with caregivers than both control groups. Conclusion: There
is an earlier onset and higher frequency of television viewing in autistic children compared with children with typical development.