Autism Mis-diagnosed – Could it be Colour Sensitivity?

snow owl

My son is 11 and has a lot of sensory processing issues, his most challenging ones being visual and sound.  When we go to see doctors, paediatricians and occupational therapists no-one knows how to help us. They don’t seem to have seen this type of sensitivity before (especially the visual processing) and they don’t seem to have seen sensitivity outside of autism.

So . . . where do they refer us? Autism testing.

I told my son about the assessment and he was quite indignant that he didn’t want to be mis-diagnosed as having autism and so he he wrote a letter to the doctor.

Dear Dr,

I am Luca and I am 11. I have an appointment to come and see you and Mum and Dad say it is about behaviour and autism.

I don’t think it will help me to come to be assessed because I think lots of people are being mis-diagnosed with autism when really they are colour sensitive.

I am sensitive to colour and pattern. I see colour and pattern different to other people. And it makes my brain do funny things. I can’t think very straight when I am in a room of a particular colour. And when people show me things on paper or on the screen I might not be able to process them. Or when people ask me questions I might not feel well enough or have enough energy to answer them. I don’t even like looking at people’s faces much or do eye contact because of the colour and patterns on people’s faces.

When I am in a room of the right colour which is really a type of white, I can concentrate much better but I might still struggle if the light outside doesn’t feel right for me or if it is sunny or if there is a blue sky.

When I go for appointments to see doctors I feel like I can’t really be me. My Mum has to speak for me and I feel trapped by the colours in the room and on people’s clothes. I can’t really show people who I am.

I don’t really mind being assessed for behaviour things or autism but I am not happy to be assessed in a place that is not right for me and then get mis-diagnosed. I feel at my best in December when the light is dim, after dark and in my house which is all neutral colours and patterns.

My Mum helped me write this letter because of my processing problem.

I hope you understand and take me seriously,

Luca

 

Colour Sensitivity – Lightwatcher Story – February 24th 2019

hiding from glare

February and the light is getting that little bit brighter. In fact it feels suddenly a lot brighter . . . because in my perception the violet light has woken up. Violet light is strong for me in the beginning and middle of winter too but there is nothing like the violet light of February. It feels ‘harsh.’

The reason the February light feels harsh to me is that seeing more violet light when the light is still generally not at its brightest means I see less red light to soften the blue. As the light gets brighter the red light appears in my perception again around March and April only to disappear again as we head into the brightest month of June.

How Does This Affect Me?

Colours look at their best

At this point between the darker light of winter and brighter light of midsummer.  Even though the red is low for me, I can still see enough red to perceive colours very well except for perhaps acid yellow and pale grey.

My other sensitivities are at their highest.

I am particularly sensitive to sound and white noise drives me crazy – the filling of our water tank after a bath, the fan of my computer, our kettle, the rattling of plastic bags. All these sounds make me feel jangled.

I have a lot of energy!

My brain feels like it is going at 100 mph and there is nothing I can do to slow it down!

What Do I Do?

  • I celebrate the beauty of the colours
  • I examine the things that causing me disturbance in the house. For instance we changed the water pressure to make the sound of the header tank filling up more bearable.  And I am trying to find a new kettle!
  • I try to focus on one thing at a time.
  • I try to filter out any clutter whether that is thoughts or physical clutter in my environment.
  • I ask other people to be as calm and slow as they can with me and to not give me too much information at once.
  • I eat food that feels comforting and has a softness to me.
  • I wear clothes that have a soft colour to me.

Most of all I enjoy my crazy flitty intuition that can lead on me exciting little journeys!

Why Visionaries Don’t Have Friends – Just Meaningful Encounters

 

happy thoughts

We’re not good every day givers as we are always saving some of our energy for our big plan – our vision

The muse might turn up and tell us to do something, say something or go somewhere which is tricky when you have arranged a coffee with someone and are required to do chit chat!

We tend to be one tracked. We don’t have that much energy to talk about things that are not in some way related to our vision.

We’re not good at hanging out OUT as we tend to be sensitive to everything. Take us out to a shopping mall and all the sights, sounds and smells will quickly become too much. Take us out for a walk and we may find the place too lonely or not like the sound of the wind! Yes, it can be that difficult!

Intensity is our only state and we are only really happy if we feel a lot of energy in a conversation or an activity. Once we feel the energy go down we are miserable and just want out!

So all in all we’re not too good at friendship. People can be intrigued by us for a while but when all the above kicks in we don’t see them for dust!

However we are excellent at meaningful encounters.

 

 

Colour Sensitivity – Me and My White Kitchen!

Luca Cooking

We have lived in our house for 20 years and in that time we have never had a new kitchen. Our kitchen was a sort of yellowy cream yellowing with age with wood trim, slightly pinky walls and a very geometric patterned floor in reds and browns. I know – it doesn’t sound to good does it?! But you just get used to these things.

When I tried to cook in our kitchen I felt a strange sensation in my legs, a bit like I was being pulled down into a swamp.  And I would feel less and less energy in myself until I would feel like screaming and giving up. Often I wouldn’t finish cooking a meal. My husband would have to come and rescue me! And then I would get very cross if people weren’t appreciative of my efforts because I had suffered so much to do it.

Now I know – I was feeling a sensitivity to the geometric pattern on the floor and the dark brown colour of our gas hob.

When I tried to wash up in our kitchen I would feel a jangly sensation in my body. I would also go very hot, would feel achy and my face would always itch. I tried using washing up liquid without perfume but it didn’t help.

Now I know – I was sensitive to the grey colour of the stainless steel sink and also to the finish of the stainless steel itself. When light falls on stainless steel especially brushed steel it moves in a certain way creating rings and lines that were giving me a feeling of unease.

When I tried to eat in our kitchen I couldn’t taste my food. I would keep saying to my baker husband “Are you sure you put salt in the bread?” because I just couldn’t taste it. I would choose sweet things sometimes just because I could taste them better.

Now I know – Firstly I was sensitive to the blue light in our fridge so even looking for food in the fridge made me feel unwell and much colder than would be normal for a person to feel with the fridge open. Next I was sensitive to the appearance of the colours of some of the packaging under the poor lighting of our kitchen. Next I was sensitive to the orange pine colour of our kitchen table. And finally I was sensitive to the green rim of our Denby pottery plates. No wonder I couldn’t taste my food!

Solution

We finally have our new kitchen. It is not all clinical white as that would be too cold and not good for us at all. We have light ivory cupboard doors that have a certain warmth. We have surf white work surfaces which make every coloured package on the top appear more to their true colour. We have a white composite sink and white tap. We have a white glass splashback and upstand and a white glass hob and white oven.  All the whites are slightly different – a little blue, a little green here and there – but I like this. Our floor will be a polished concrete effect vinyl and our walls F & B All White paint. Our lights are all dimmable.

Yes, it does look cool (!) but more importantly it feels amazing. I fully interact with the kitchen, happily going in the cupboards and drawers, using the sink and the hob etc. Whereas my kitchen used to repel me, now it it draws me in and hugs me. I feel very alive and I tend to do things more slowly than I used to as this feeling of calm overtakes me. I no longer rush to get out of my kitchen. I relish the time I spend in there and look forward to it taking me on many happy cooking journeys.

My son (11) who takes sensitivity to a whole new level and literally would spend no time in our kitchen and not even eat with us now goes in there and dances around happily wanting to learn to cook and do everything himself. It is the most amazing thing to see.

So . . . how do you feel in your kitchen? Is it helping you to nourish yourself or could it be hampering you?

Colour Sensitivity – Lightwatcher Story – February 1st 2019

Snow – wonderful snow!

For me and my son, snowy days are the best days.

We woke up to about 4 inches of snow today and Luca wasn’t really feeling that well so I guessed we wouldn’t be going out. But at about 10:00 Luca suddenly said he thought he should go out – that he would feel better if he did. He started doing that sudden needing things all at once thing that children do when they are excited! I feel like I am suddenly being blown around by a whirlwind!

Anyway we wrapped up warm and ventured into the snowy wastes! It has been a slow burn over the years for Luca liking snow. As a toddler, he disliked seeing us sledge down the slope away from him and burst into tears. As a smaller child he didn’t learn the art of wrapping up warm and so was always grumpy with cold. When we had ice he seemed quite distressed which we only understand in the light of knowing about his visual issue with water and glare. So this year is very special. Luca has decided that he REALLY LIKES SNOW. And more than that – snow makes him feel really good as I find too.

Outside today I noticed that Luca’s eyes were open wide and I could see their real beautiful blue in the light. And his pupils were small, as were mine and my husband’s. Usually Luca’s pupils are bigger that ours’ as he is trying to shut out the light. He appeared wide open to the experience of being outside in the snow. He was even happy to have me look at his eyes and happy to look at the camera. This was so unusual.

Now as a light theory person I have a theory. It is simply that white reflects all the colours of the spectrum and so looking at white is our most balanced experience of the spectrum. When we perceive the spectrum as BALANCED our light sensitivity disappears.

Colour Sensitivity – Lightwatcher Story – 27th Dec 2018

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Wow – the fog today!

Here in Somerset UK this is what it is like outside my window. My 11 year old son kindly took this photo for me with his new action camera.

Although it is thick cloud, the light appears almost luminescent and violet. It reminds me a bit of the feeling I have when we have frost or snow. There is a powerful sense of white. And all the blues and violets around me feel very strong – as if there is too much energy in them.

How I feel:

Full of ideas but find it hard to formulate them.

Full of energy but struggle to find what to put it into.

WHAT I DO:

Stay close to community whether that is family or the larger community.

Enjoy my powerful feelings even though it may feel difficult to harness them and utilise them.

Trust in my connection with God, myself and all things and try not to worry about my fuzzy brain!

Colour Sensitivity – Christmas Day Cloud Therapy!

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Why did the light change yesterday?!

I have been sailing on through November and December thinking the light is good. I have been able to project manage our home improvements. I have even been able to sort CD’s and books and tolerate the constant chaos of stuff around us.

Then yesterday . . . my mood suddenly changed. And it wasn’t because it was Christmas Eve! I looked around me and realised I wasn’t seeing violet light but not enough blue and red light.  This usually makes me feel a bit downhearted. I was gutted, realising that is would likely be another struggle of a Christmas Day.

And here we are  . . Christmas Day . . . and lot of black cloud!!  And grumpy wife and mum.

What can I do to cheer myself? 

Sit in the only light there is and do my jigsaw puzzle that is full of whites and neutrals. This is the best Christmas Day Cloud Therapy there is!

Colour Sensitivity – Light watcher Story – 9th Dec 2018

child praying

The light is more blue in my perception than usual for December.

Perceiving blue light makes me feel:-

Very single minded, a bit detached, a bit lonely, a bit flitty in my thinking.

What Do I Do?

Find meaningful ways to connect with others and let my voice out – what I really think and feel.  I follow the thread of my thoughts and ideas and see what wonderful place they lead me to.

Jigsaw Puzzles for Ambient Colour Sensitives!

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There is something about doing a jigsaw puzzle with snow that really gets me going! I love working with the different shades of white. I can’t do the puzzle on a cloudy day – when I can’t pick up all the light frequencies – only a day when there is enough blue and violet light around to make the whites ‘sing’.

Colour Sensitivity and Our Experience of Intimacy and Expansiveness

umbrela

I am trying to learn all I can about my experience of colour and light.

Yesterday was a hot sunny day.  My son who is 9 and also colour sensitive decided he wanted to go to the beach.  I thought ‘Well, this is the first time we have been to the beach since I have started my investigation so it might be interesting!’

We arrived at the bustling seaside town of Lyme Regis (our nearest coastal town) and I had worn a fleece and a summer beany because I am always cold and feel shivery in the sun. As soon as I got out of the car I realised that in my effort to stay warm I had forgotten to bring a hat with a brim to shelter me from the sunlight so our first stop was the hat shop! From a small collection of hats on a stand outside a little seaside store I chose a hat. I wouldn’t usually choose anything so quickly but the light from the sun felt unbearable and the buzz on the prom and the nearby icecream store was beginning to jangle me. There was no mirror, it was slightly too large but my husband said it looked good and I had no intention of taking it off so we bought it!

Under the refuge of my hat I still needed to find shade so we went up into the park that rises steeply and looks out over the sea. It is a considerable slope and there were many steps to climb. My legs felt like lead.  Strange – they were fine when I got up that morning. Ah, it must have been the light. When we reached our shady spot I felt relieved. I looked out over the bay and thought about the colours. The blue sky was ok to me through my sunglasses that have a brown tint. The sea I could tell was a gorgeous combination of blues and deep turquoises but my reaction did not match my perception. I felt unmoved by the colours. They were ok to me probably because of their luminescence – otherwise I may I felt repelled by them. I then thought about how I felt in other ways. I felt very ungrounded and pretty disconnected with myself and my family. I felt like everything was too big – the sea, the sky – and I asked myself the question ‘What am I doing here if it doesn’t make me happy?’

By this time I wanted to go home but my son reminded me that we had to go to the beach. Oh no, I looked down at the beach and all the buzz and colours and the walk in the bright sunlight to get there . . . and  then I conceded that I would give it a try.

When we had climbed down the slope and reached the streets running adjacent to the beach I felt ok but when we arrived at the beach itself I was amazed to find that the sand looked glary to me – sandy coloured and glary! Why had I never noticed this before? So many times I haven’t been happy on a beach but I hadn’t realised that it was the colour. It looked miles down to the sea and the blue didn’t look so good now as it had looked from up high in our shady spot. How was I ever going to make it? I felt upset that I couldn’t bear to go to the sea with my son.  And I didn’t want to wait while my husband took my son to the sea. Why would I? I was hot and shivery and all the colours were looking wrong to me.  I didn’t feel safe to just be left by myself. The beach didn’t feel like a friendly local little beach. To me under the glare of the sunlight and with the subtle visual distortion I was experiencing it felt more like the Sahara Desert!

A Revelatory Moment!

What if had glasses to balance the colours? At the moment I feel that I am not picking up enough red and as red is a grounding colour I am not able to feel grounded. Colours that make me feel more expanded (blues and greens) look wrong because of the absence of red. Therefore I can’t enjoy feeling expansive either.  Colours that make me feel safe – the earthy colours some way between grounded and expansive – yellows, browns and oranges – also look wrong because of the absence of red. So I feel I have no grounded place, no safe place and no exciting place to go. I am STUCK and all because of my perception of colour!