If it looks like Asperger’s…

I decided a few months ago that at some point I would like to make a week-series highlighting and detailing specific sensory perceptions in Asperger’s Syndrome. Autism Awareness Month seemed like the perfect time to pursue this series.

A significant part of the Asperger’s diagnosis is hypersensitivity, a symptom which is frequently the trigger for tantrums and fits. Generally it is not common for an autistic person to have visually-provoked episodes, but visual hypersensitivity has been known to cause severe headaches and is a problem for Aspies in learning environments.

My problem with visual hypersensitivity is not necessarily one with bright or enhanced lights, but with high-contrast situations. As a result, spending extended periods reading black print on white paper or staring at bright computer screens can give me headaches. This can prove challenging when completing school assignments involving large amounts of reading. I find that on bad days I have to take frequent breaks, which makes it difficult for me to retain the information in the text. The best and most readily-available solution I have developed is to utilize my pencil case or my hand to cast a shadow upon the paper. This reduces the brightness and therefore the contrast of the paper. On my computer I have lowered the brightness setting to the lowest possible and changed my display settings so that the background of my Word documents is purple rather than white. By applying these accomodations I can ensure that it is easier to spend the amount of time I need on reading assignments.

I have discovered through research that the ultimate solution for this problem for me would be special glasses called Irlen lenses. These glasses are essentially mild sunglasses tinted to the color preference of their wearer. This method creates constant protection against high-contrast situations and allegedly can be utilized to combat issues with depth perception. Unfortunately I inherited my father’s depressing eyeglass prescription and require especially thinly-formulated lenses to prevent the width of my glasses from exceeding the length of my nose. Because of these accomodations the Irlen treatment cannot be applied to lenses of my severity.

My visual hypersensitivity, while at times annoying, is probably the least remarkable occurence of hypersensitivity between the five senses. I do look forward to discussing the other four senses throughout this week and hope you readers will stay for the series. Just as a reminder, I am still selling elephants on http://www.elephantsforautism.tk for $5 donations. Thanks!

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