Friday, October 5, 2018

Worth Your Read: One Person's Light Sensitivity

Dr. Stephen Shore, noted autistic speaker, professor, and advocate, once spoke the often-paraphrased line: "If you've met one individual with autism, you've met one individual with autism." 

This is particularly true when it comes to sensory sensitivities.  The way we experience things can be markedly different from the "normal experience," of course.  But even the way two autistic people experience the lighting in a building can vary, wildly.  This is why it's so important to keep reading and learning about autism and related conditions.  You can never really "know it all" in any subject, but especially when it comes to this, there's a stunning amount of diversity. 

A few months ago, I wrote about what visual sensitivities can be like.  I, specifically, have a form of light sensitivity, but it has absolutely nothing on this article writer's experiences with light.  What I have, in terms of light sensitivity, is basically a ramped up version of normal vision.  Most people are uncomfortable, or even suffer minor pain, when they have to look directly into high beams on car headlights, or when stepping from a dark room into full sunlight.  I just suffer more, with less cause, than most people. 

This author?  If my light sensitivity is ramped up, theirs is on the strongest steroids ever invented.  Can you imagine having to plan your day around the lighting in the world and in all the buildings you have to visit?  This author has to do that.  Every day.  The pain of their bad experiences with lights can last hours.  That's brutal.  They mention deciding, as a rule, to work 3rd shift (graveyard shift, basically they work when most people sleep), so that they could cope with life easier. 

Imagine the author as a child, rather than the literate, communicative adult able to write the article we see here.  Can you imagine how difficult their life would have been?  Pain all the time, and nobody believes you?  Nobody understands, because neurotypical people rarely get headaches from changes in lights.  Did their parents believe them?  Was any help forthcoming, for a person that can't explain very clearly why they're suffering?

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