Tips for Visual Sensitivity

Visual hypersensitivity can significantly interfere with everyday life. Here are a few of the major culprits:

Fluorescent lights: people with auditory and visual sensitivity can see and hear fluorescent lights as they flicker on and off. This can range from mildly annoying to profoundly distracting.

Downcast lights: light that shoots straight down from the ceiling may be very difficult for people to tolerate.

Glare: From sunlight or artificial lighting, glare can make it difficult for people to see and concentrate.

Visual overcrowding: Too many things to look at in the environment can be overwhelming or even lead to a sensory “white out.” Too much movement in a playground may make it too uncomfortable for a child to play happily. Too many items on a bookshelf, in a toy bin, or in a dresser drawer may make it impossible to find a the desired item. Too many questions on a school worksheet can overload and discourage a student even if the student knows the material.

Here are some quick tips: * When possible, replace fluorescent bulbs with full spectrum or incandescent bulbs * If unable to replace fluorescent fixtures: * Use only FRESH fluorescent tubes since they get noisier and more flickery as they age * Cover fluorescent ceiling fixtures with light diffusing filters such as Sky Panels and Classroom Light Filters. See the Sensory Environment section of our Toys & Equipment page * Turn off overheads and use eye-level lamps * Most lights are simply too bright. Install dimmer switches you can buy at the hardware store. * Wear sunglasses and/or a hat outdoors and tinted lenses indoors. * Wear a baseball cap hat with a wide brim to cut the glare of downward lighting. If wearing a hat inside is forbidden at your child’s school and he needs this accommodation, you will need to formally add it to your child’s IEP or 504 plan. * To reduce visual overload: * Declutter your home, school, or office. * Sort through toys and objects and store them in opaque containers with labels. * Clear off work surfaces. For example, if you want your visually sensitive child to focus on his homework, provide a distraction-free workspace. * Avoid complicated prints and patterns on carpets and walls.