All things Bright and Shiny
Being that it is the holiday season, everywhere you look there are bright and shiny things. I’d encourage you to take some time to see the holiday world through the eyes of someone who has a visual difficulty.
For some reason, I thought that my visual field would slowly dim to complete darkness when I contracted optic neuritis. It surprised me that my blindness looked more like having a bright cloud in my eye. To experience this, you could stand in front of a mirror, take a flashlight and point it at your face’s reflection in a mirror, and have the overhead light turned on. Pretty overwhelming isn’t it?
As the corticosteroids do their work, I started seeing again over several weeks. My visual field reminded me of the facets on a diamond or golf ball. My eyeball lenses felt like they were faceted. The eyes would send refracted lights into my brain. Wearing dark glasses was a must with all the bright, shiny things in my own kitchen.
The human brain has to take breaks with this type of onslaught. Headaches are extremely common with many types of visual difficulties. I found myself closing my eyes even after my eyesight returned. My brain would become overwhelmed with seeing.
I am so dependent on my vision that I cannot imagine going back to having optic neuritis. I share this information with you so that you can have a view into the world of visual difficulties.
For the child with an autism spectrum disorder, they can focus on the bright, shiny objects for hours if we let them. The refracted light is something that they crave to the exclusion of everything around them. This is why I suggest limiting or removing bright, shiny things when you are trying to keep their attention. This is also why their teachers have to use books with limited pictures to distract them. Teachers use pictures to show them what to do.
However, the person with autism has to take the same visual breaks that a person with a visual disturbance takes. The reason that they act out more in the mall this time of year is because their brains are overloaded with visual stimuli and noise.