Being new to the autistic community online-I have sat thru countless fact filled hours of YouTube videos and social media posts. They are really informative for a newly self-identified autistic and can be a great place for finding support. Just this morning, I watched a video on audio sensory sensitivities and ear plugs. Wow-what an amazing tidbit of information it was. And while I personally don’t have a major sensitivity to sound (some times I do, depends on my processing level)– I did want to talk about a legitimate sensory sensitivity I do have that I believe shows a little of my autistic side: light sensitivity.
When I was a kid- I always wanted to wear sunglasses. in class, outside, you name it. Even my high school sophomore year softball team I was known as “Meeko” because I always wore the sunglasses outside at practice. However, I didn’t think much of my eyes because I could still see really well. Unlike my mom who had classes at 8 years old– I only needed to have my eyes checked every once & a while to make sure they were still 20/20. However, one year (I think after I got real vision insurance)–I went to the eye doctor preparing to have my eyes examined. I remember being confused when I didn’t need to bring another person with me. Don’t all adults bring someone because you’re eyes get dilated? Come to find out-my pupils are larger than the average person resulting in not only my eyes never having to be dilated, but also having a increased sensitivity to light. (And also cops thinking I am always drunk and shinning bright flashlights in my face-not cool cops, not cool at all.) I never really noticed the light sensitivity until I began to lose focus while working on my computer. I would get tired a lot more easily than expected. Then lights got “too bright” or I was always reaching for my sunglasses when walking outside. It was described to me once that my eyes were trying to take in too much information. I was thinking “yep, just like my brain.”
My light sensitivity increased as I got older and changed eye doctors–I started to inherit my father’s far sightedness. This means that I can see things better when they are at a distance. It creates trouble focusing , headaches for long periods on the computer and having to squint to see things up close. Ironically it relates to my ADHD and autism. If my own eyes have trouble focusing and my brain gets distracted or bored and I am a complete mess at processing people talking to me. The eye doctor finally recommended I get a brown or black tint in my glasses to help in the office. Let me tell you–those glasses were life-changing. Not only did I not have to squint–but the world got softer with less light.
Today I wear black tinted glasses in the office. I have to constantly tell people they are not transition lenses but at least they are super comforting for my sight. For outside-i pretty much need my sunglasses all the time. In bright sun, today in cloudy overcast. Hey I’ve even worn them in the office when I forget my standard glasses.
Other light sensitivities that have come to the surface are my annoyance with too many lights on in the house, having lights turned off above my desk and returning my glasses to Costco because I needed the tint (they do not offer it by the way.)
What sensitivities do you have? Audio/Vision/Smell ( I have a little bit of this but that’s for another time.) Leave a comment below–maybe those with sensitivities can help others see all parts of the world.