Monday, November 4, 2013

But what about those florescent lights?

I was going to make my post on time this year, I really was. But then things came up that were more important than writing a blog post. And now again, I vary between writing thousands of words because someone mentioned a topic that I wanted to reply to because they were wrong and not being able to pull up what I was going to write about on here. But, despite all that I'm going to write a post, even if its two days late, and even if there's a lot going on, and even if I don't remember what I was going to write about because so much is going on. And I'm going to make it meaningful.

Right now, what's meaningful to me and easy to talk about, sensory issues, so that is what I'll write about.

I don't hide from people that I'm on the spectrum and that I have bad sensory issues. It'd be rather hard to hide the sensory issues wearing blue glasses around, but still some people do overlook them and say that you can't notice. I question them sometimes, if I'm sitting sideways in a chair, wearing blue glasses, and stimming, but apparently this isn't enough to be visible sometimes.

Sensory issues can be invisible. Even more than other parts of autism. Social issues are visible if you're interacting with people. Communication issues, the same. Issues with change aren't immediately visible, but generally come up quickly, and are understood to be part of autism. Same with the other parts of RRBs. And well, stimming is usually visible, though apparently sometimes overlooked.

Sensory issues, when they're hypersensitivities at least (which within the HFA crowd seem to be the most common based on my experiences, though in SPD, hypersensitivities are actually less common than either hyposensitivities or seeking behaviors), are generally very internalized. The person reacts strongly, feels pain, doesn't process things properly, but doesn't show others very much. They don't scream out every time a florescent light turns on, but that doesn't change that the florescent light has an effect on them. It's an invisible reaction. Because others don't know. And others don't expect the environment could effect people so much.

Which leads to sensory issues being overlooked. We talk about communication. We talk about change. We talk about how many people are murdered by family members for being different. But, what about that simple florescent light?

Just for me? I hear those lights. They hurt. They feel like they're stabbing my brain with high frequency buzzing. They make me want to rip my ears off because it would hurt less than listening, and they jam my brain, because I have to listen through the buzzing. And try to concentrate through it. Eventually the buzzing might give me a migraine. A sudden noise of the sort might have other reactions, but lights are these constant offenders, like someone taking the static, turning it high frequency, putting it in headphones, and making you walk around wearing it so you're the only one who can hear it.

And then of course there's the vision part. They flicker. I don't know who gave people the idea that the flicker isn't visible to the human eye because its definitely visible. And both the flicker and the buzzing get worse as they age. A constant distraction of a fan flapping in front of your face, flip, flip, flip, flip, flip, because its flicker flicker flickering. And again, people deny it, because they don't see it. And because its so fast, again, not only is it distracting, its a slow buildup of too much getting too pain. Someone flicking lights on and off is irritating. Now, have that happen always in the room. It's normal. The eyes or the processing behind the eyes or something has to compensate though, and it doesn't so much like doing so (to put it not very scientifically), and eventually the eyes are tired, and hurt and tired, and the headache sets in.

And trying to process things with these - apparently my communication skills drop significantly as soon as you turn on a florescent light, and come back when you turn it off. Other sorts of processing is harder to test, but it generally gets messed up.

I know others who are more messed up by the lights. And others who are less messed up by the lights. I have other visual processing issues (headlights are one of my biggest ones), and many others in other senses. But, we don't need to look at dealing with everyone always. We have to look at doing what we can to make things better, when we can and how we can.

When that means in my bedroom, giving me LEDs, for when I can't use natural sunlight, that's a thing, because that's something that helps. And that's a thing that is worth mentioning even though it doesn't fix every visual processing issue I have, not to mention every sensory issue I have.

When that means, getting places to at least replace the bulbs earlier if they have to use florescents - that'd be a huge step.

But, right now, as I walk around, I'm in a way showing people that this matters, and when it comes up I explain. I'm wearing my tinted lenses, for myself, but doing it for myself is being open. And sometimes being open is enough to be saying a lot. Just wearing my lenses is enough for someone to say, why are there blue lenses? And that itself, is communicating to them about me, about autism, and about the importance of actually taking care of our sensory issues.

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