What Is Light Sensitivity
Being sensitive to certain types of light like wavelengths and brightness makes an individual experience a sensory overload. These individuals cant tolerate light, such as fluorescent, sunlight, or incandescent light.
When faced with these stimuli, they can experience both hypo-sensitivities and hyper-sensitivities .
How To Ease Autism Light Sensitivity
When it comes to mitigating the effects of autism light sensitivity, the simplest methods might be best. These coping strategies are easy, and may be used by anyone with light sensitivity. But dont let the simplicity fool you they can have a significant impact on comfort level.
- Wear light sensitivity glasses. In fact, 84% of Axon Optics customers say our glasses reduce their symptoms of photophobia. Our precision tint blocks more of the spectrum of light most likely to trigger discomfort.
- Replace fluorescent or LED lighting in the home, office, or other important environments with incandescent lighting
- Allow more natural light to reduce dependency on artificial light
- Protect the eyes against sunshine when outdoors
- Wear hats or sun visors when overhead fluorescent lights cannot be changed or avoided
- Remove unnecessary visual stimulation from the environment
- Increase light exposure slowly: Begin with dim lighting and increase the brightness in small increments over time
- Take frequent breaks from screens. Consider a version of the 20-20-20 rule.
Axon Optics light sensitivity glasses are totally non-invasive, easy to carry, and very effective. Unlike pharmaceuticals, there are no side effects or potential drug interactions with other medications. Try them for autism light sensitivity. If they arent effective in your case, take advantage of our 60-day return policy.
Signs Your Asd Child Is Struggling With Sound Sensitivity
In both very young and older children with autism, it can be hard to detect if sound sensitivity is occurring. Its important to look out for the signs so that you can make the necessary changes to daily life. Talking to your child is, of course, important but you can also figure out a lot from his/her behavioral responses to different stimuli.
Its also important to take time to understand what a child is experiencing when he/she hears distressing levels of noise. While a particular noise might sound comfortable and unnoteworthy to you, it may be incredibly painful to a child with autism. When sensory overload occurs, its like a build-up of information that a child with autism may struggle to process. Processing the infinite supply of information we receive through our senses is an essential part of being human and failing to do so effectively can be deeply confusing and distressing. As the fight or flight response kicks in, its natural for a child experiencing this phenomena to act out, run away, or shut down completely.
Theres no definitive list of all the responses a child may have to sound sensitivity. Every child is unique and yours may exhibit quite different behavior to another child experiencing the same thing. However, there are some common features to look out for. If your child shows any of these signs, especially in an unusually noisy situation, then he/she is likely to be experiencing sound sensitivity.
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Autism Light Sensitivity: Common Signs And Symptoms
Whether in autistic children or adults, autism light sensitivity in can reveal itself in a number of physical ways, including:
- Excessive blinking
- Low tolerance for fluorescent light
- Inability to watch television or look at other digital screens for very long
- Behaviors that indicate the desire to avoid light
- Shielding of eyes
- Wearing sunglasses indoors
- Turning the lights off
Autism Sound Sensitivity: Understanding Asd Childrens Relationship With Noise
As with much of the wealth of knowledge we have about children with autism, their sensitivity to sound has not been fully explained. Yet we do know that it is one of the most common symptoms.
Sensory sensitivity is common in itself but an overreaction to sound in particular is often the most obvious and severe struggle that ASD children face. However, it wont affect all children equally. For a great number of children with autism, the opposite is true, with them actually showing signs of being under-sensitive to noise. In this case, they may be unresponsive when you call their name, seemingly unable to hear you.
For those children who are over-sensitive to sound, noise that seems at a suitable level to you may be overwhelming to them. This is because their senses are taking in too much information. In contrast, under-sensitive children will have senses that take in too little information. The exact reasons behind this are unclear.
Research shows it seems to come down to how the brain is wired. Researchers at MIT and Brown University believe they have discovered a neural circuit that could account for differences in how the world is perceived. This particular circuit requires a protein called Shank3 but in tests on mice where this protein is lacking, neurons are over-active, causing an exaggerated response to stimuli. This occurs in a region of the brain known as the somatosensory cortex, an area that has long been linked to autism.
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How To Recognize Light Sensitivity With Autism
Physical symptoms are one of the most common manifestations for autistic individuals, and they can include:
- Triggered migraines/headaches
- Discomfort to any artificial lights including fluorescent
- The need to protect the eyes from the light
- Inability to stay long in a place with bright light
However, there can also be other signs that are less recognizable like anxiety to light stimuli, inability to socially interact in bright spaces, or stay focused when there are different types of sensory disruptions in the same area.
Helping Autistic Children And Teenagers With Sensory Sensitivities
What you do to help your autistic child with sensory sensitivities depends on how your child reacts to sensory information.
If your child is easily overwhelmed by sensory information, you could try the following:
- Have a quiet space your child can go to when they feel overwhelmed.
- Give your child extra time to take in what youre saying.
- Introduce your child to new places at quiet times, gradually increasing the amount of time they spend there in later visits.
- Let your child try ear plugs or noise-cancelling headphones to help with sound sensitivities.
Its also a good idea to speak with people ahead of time about your childs needs if youre going somewhere people might be able to adjust a few things to make it easier. For example, if youre making a playdate for your child, you could ask for it to be in a place thats familiar to your child. You could look out for cinemas that have sensory friendly movie screenings.
If your child needs more stimulation from the environment, you could try these suggestions:
- Arrange for extra playtime outside.
- Give your child toys that are extra-stimulating, like playdough or a squishy ball.
- Have a certain time of the day to listen to music or bounce on the trampoline.
- Speak loudly in an exaggerated way if your child tends to ignore sounds.
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Sensory Spaces With Dim Lighting
Creating a quiet place for an autistic student can also go a long way towards helping them feel safe and comfortable while in your room.
This can be something as simple as a tent with some colored LED lights. It will allow your student to maintain some control over their needs and give them a safe place to relax.
If the space is available, a sensory room is another tool you can use. This would be a room you filled with the following:
- Dim lights
- Comfortable furniture
- Interactive toys
This list may seem short and not very definitive, but there are so many ways you can make a great sensory room theres no right or wrong way. When making it, take into consideration what your student responds well to.
Are they a Thomas the Train fan? Do they hate the color purple? How do they feel about blocks? Create the room for your students specifically, and it will go a long way towards helping meet their needs.
As you get to know your student, dont be afraid to change things up. Just let them know that the room will be a little different. Some autistic children dont respond well to having things sprung on them.
It might seem like fun to surprise them, but they probably wont appreciate it. A quick three-minute conversation preparing them will go a long way to helping them adjust better.
Wish I Had Found These Sooner
“The glasses make such a huge difference! I can now watch more than 30 minutes of tv without head pain. I can grocery shop or even shop without my head hurting. Most importantly, I can tolerate fluorescent lighting in my office, church, and everywhere else those terrible lights are used! If I forget to put them on when I get to work, within 30 minutes I can feel my head starting to hurt. I put on the sunglasses for light sensitivity and I am good for the rest of the day. Seriously, they have helped so much. I am ordering a second pair to have as a backup! – Tiffany S.
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Classroom Lighting And Autism
If youre a teacher and have an autistic student in your room, there are many changes to take into consideration, from the way you communicate to how you decorate your room.
Just as using shorter sentences and alerting your student to any changes in the schedule can help, keeping lighting and autism in mind can make a big impact.
Rather than harsh, fluorescent lights that are so often placed in the classroom by the powers that be, using LED lights can greatly reduce the stress of your autistic students. Its even better if the lights are adjustable, so you can dim or brighten the room as the child needs it.
This might mean having a conversation with your principal, who will have to speak to their superiors. Pointing out how much money the school could save is a great way towards encouraging your district to make the change.
If they arent interested in switching out the lighting, another option is drapes or shades to cover the fluorescent lights. This will cut back on some of the harsh glare.
Fluorescent Lighting And Autism
Certain types of lighting, specifically fluorescent lighting, has been shown to have a particularly negative affect on individuals with autism. Approximately half of autistic individuals experience what is classified as a severe sensitivity to fluorescent lighting. In fact, one small study found that the use of fluorescent lighting increased the repetitive behaviors of children with autism, which may be attributed to a hypersensitivity to fluorescent light flicker.1,7 Another small study reported similar results noting that fluorescent lighting increased the frequency of stereotypical repetitive behaviors in autistic children.8
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New Study May Explain Why People With Autism Are Often Highly Sensitive To Light And Noise
Many people with autism spectrum disorders are highly sensitive to light, noise, and other sensory input. A new study in mice reveals a neural circuit that appears to underlie this hypersensitivity, offering a possible strategy for developing new treatments.
MIT and Brown University neuroscientists found that mice lacking a protein called Shank3, which has been previously linked with autism, were more sensitive to a touch on their whiskers than genetically normal mice. These Shank3-deficient mice also had overactive excitatory neurons in a region of the brain called the somatosensory cortex, which the researchers believe accounts for their over-reactivity.
There are currently no treatments for sensory hypersensitivity, but the researchers believe that uncovering the cellular basis of this sensitivity may help scientists to develop potential treatments.
“We hope our studies can point us to the right direction for the next generation of treatment development,” says Guoping Feng, the James W. and Patricia Poitras Professor of Neuroscience at MIT and a member of MIT’s McGovern Institute for Brain Research.
Feng and Christopher Moore, a professor of neuroscience at Brown University, are the senior authors of the paper, which appears today in Nature Neuroscience. McGovern Institute research scientist Qian Chen and Brown postdoc Christopher Deister are the lead authors of the study.
Too much excitation
Adhd & Sensory Processing Disorders
Similarly, sensory processing disorder is a biological explanation for these deficits and has been applied to a high percentage of ADHD patientsbetween 40-84% according to some researchers.4Contrary to HSP or SPS, sensory processing disorder is a neurological condition that describes the brains incorrect processing of external “information” . This then results in overstimulation, distress or even physiological symptoms. For instance, extended fluorescent light exposure could manifest as painful photophobia.
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How Light Sensitivity Affects Those With Autism
With as many as 90-95% of people with autism spectrum disorder having external sensitivities, it is not surprising that exposure to bright light can affect their symptoms. Studies have shown that it may not be as prominent as other sensory problemsnotably hearing and touchbut one small study has pegged that more than half of autistic adolescents have visual processing deficits, including sensitivity to light.2 Other analyses have noted that hypersensitivity to light and photophobia increases with autistic traits as well.3
Causes Of Sensory Overload
The cause of SPDs is poorly understood and can differ based on whether a person has autism, ADHD, PTSD, or other developmental or psychiatric disorders.
What is known is that children with autism typically lack social attention, meaning the awareness of social cues and the expected modes of social interactions. On the flip side, they will often be hyperattentive to objects or environmental stimuli that others either filter out or fail to notice.
This imbalance in attention and the inability to shift focus between the larger environment and smaller details may account for why 95.8% of children with autism experience SPDs, according to a 2020 study in the Frontiers of Integrative Neuroscience.
The types of stimuli that trigger sensory overload can also vary from one person to the next. They may include:
- Sounds: Especially persistent sounds like lawnmowers, washing machines, ticking clocks, or dripping water
- Sights: Such as a flickering fluorescent lamp or curtains that flutter
- Smells: Particularly heavy or distinct smells such as cleaning supplies, perfumes, new carpets, or foods
- Textures: Such as eating slippery foods or touching a slimy gel
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Autism Light Sensitivity: Causes Symptoms Solution
Autism light sensitivity is a very real thing. In this article, well take a look at why this is the case and what can be done about it.
Its well known in relevant circles that people who are on the autism spectrum often process sensory information differently than the average person. This often includes how they experience visual stimuli. Even in the same room with the same visual exposure, someone with autism could have a vastly different experience from someone without autism. One of the most common differences is light sensitivity.
Fluorescent And Led Lighting And Autism Spectrum Disorder
Lighting affects more parts of our lives than we tend to realize. The right lighting can improve the appearance of a room, our moods, and even our overall health. On the other hand, lighting can create migraines, increase depression symptoms, and decrease our quality of life. For individuals with autism, lighting is even more crucial for their health. Lighting and Autism Spectrum Disorder is a complex issue that is different for each individual.
There are many ways that lighting can affect a child with autism, both positively and negatively, and much of it depends on the color of the light.
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How To Avoid Light Exposure With Autism
Its very important to take precautions and reduce light sensitivity when possible. For those who prefer dim places, its important to keep the lights dim in the rooms where the individual spends most of their time. Replacing any artificial lights with natural lights is another way to reduce exposure. But, outside, it can be a different problem.
For individuals with autism, wearing glasses or hats to reduce visual stimuli is possible but more difficult. On the outside, the different stimuli will only increase. Avoiding such factors is more challenging than controlling the exposure in confined areas, like ones room. But, as long as the individual wears something to cover the eyes, they can manage the symptoms.
If you believe you need more help controlling the exposure, its imperative that you consult a doctor. Since the stimuli can affect every individual differently, treatments can vary. The doctor might suggest wearing glasses or anything else that can help deal with the stressors.
Dr. Ahmed Zayed, MD holds a baccalaureate of Medicine and Surgery. An avid contributor to the Huffington Post and Chicago Tribune, Dr. Zayed believes in providing accurate and accessible information to general readers. With years of writing and editing content in the medical niche, Dr. Zayed likes to think of himself as a man with a mission, keeping the internet free of false medical information.
Student Is Easily Distracted By Visual Stimuli In The Room Ie Movement Decorations Toys Windows Doorways Etc
A student who is overresponsive to visual input has difficulty filtering out the varying visual stimulation in the room and is very aware of pictures on the wall, people moving around, screensavers on computer screens, books on shelves, trees and cars outside etc. This causes the student to be easily distracted and in more extreme cases he/she may feel overwhelmed and highly anxious.
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