Asperger's,Autism Spectrum Disorder


We all expect that everyone else can see the same things we do. At least, that was how I felt. I had no idea I was wrong, and even after my diagnosis with ASD, it was by chance that I came across it the first time. What is it you ask? Well, apparently there are several different ways those of us on the spectrum may see things differently, but for me the main challenge is light. I always thought everything looked equally bright to everyone, so it never occurred to me that it was something I could do something about.

I won’t generalise here, or talk about all the other visual challenges those of us on the spectrum can have, but only on what I have experienced. Of course, if you are on the spectrum and have experienced some visual difficulties, I would love to hear how you deal with it or even just what your experience is.

Anyway, back to what I am talking about this week.

It’s almost funny that I never realised that not everyone see things the same way – I’ve met colour blind people and even had a co-worker who worked night shifts with me restocking groceries because he had an eye problem that made him see things much more brightly. His eyes looked dark, black as night, when he took off his sunglasses to show me. I myself use either contact lenses or glasses depending on what irritates my eyes the least that day. Yet, in spite of this, it never occurred to me that I might see things differently.

I never liked being outside in the light, I was fine with dusk or dawn or even night, but day was always a challenge. The bright light hurt my eyes terribly and I was always plagued by headaches and tired from the exhaustion of it all.

My mother spends most of her time outside, she always did and always will. I am not at all like that, and I am sure she often wondered why it was impossible for me to enjoy the outdoors like she did. Especially because in fact, I love the outdoors very much. I enjoy hiking and camping, but probably mainly because if takes me away from the city and all the people.

The solitude I find in nature is what I enjoy, not the sunlight.

Even inside sunlight through the windows can drive me mad, and I hang all sorts of things up struggling to keep as much sunlight out as possible. All surfaces that can reflect light cause me great irritation, and I try to avoid having any if possible. Even the slightest glimmer can catch my eyes and hold my focus captive for an impossible amount of time. This is, of course, not as bad as the pain. The pain light can cause my eyes is indescribable. Just being outside some days can feel like looking directly at the sun, blinding and excruciating, and linger for a long time after in the form of headaches and migraines.

Often, when I was studying at a library or when I sat somewhere reading without a lamp, people have approached me and commented on how the lack of light will hurt my eyes or how odd it is that I can even read in such a dark room. The worst is when people suddenly turn on light and it hurts my eyes terribly, like a lightning strike going through my body, and then they smile and tell me I can’t see in such a dark room. I know they mean well, but no matter how many times I tell people I can see fine and that I prefer not having the light on, they insist on it.

To me it doesn’t feel like a dark room, however, and it doesn’t hurt my eyes at all. It hurts my eyes when the bright light from a lamp or from the sun shines too brightly. I often used to wonder how people could read with such a strong light right next to their head! To me, that would be so annoying and distracting.

The thing is, if the sensitivity to light is not respected it affects me quite a lot, so it’s really important that people respect it as much as possible. I doubt I’m the only one like this. Well, I know I am not, because I read several articles online about this exact problem.

I get headaches, feel tired and irritable, get upset quite a bit more, I can hardly focus on anything and my fine motor skills are even worse than usual. If that wasn’t enough, my memory and my ability to converse with others drop to a low minimum. It’s like all my batteries get drained in the light and I’m working on emergency backup systems. Trust me, it’s no fun.

If you don’t believe me, think about this way. If someone gave you a book, held it up against the midday sun and told you to read and then afterwards give a summary while staring directly at the sun, it would be somewhat of a challenge, wouldn’t it?

Before, I thought everyone was the same and so, I thought it was normal for my eyes and head to hurt. I thought I was weaker than other people because I was more sensitive than others.

Now, I often wear sunglasses or hats that shield my eyes from the light and I feel like a different person. I really do. Dark curtains help during the day, and weak lamps helps me when it gets darker and I need some light to get by. I am not able to see in the dark, you know. I am just sensitive to light, whether it be from bright lamps or the sun.

Sometimes the simplest solutions are the best. I didn’t wear sunglasses outside when others didn’t simply because I was afraid to stand out, I needed to blend in or people would find out I wasn’t like them – that I was broken. When I realised that I wasn’t broken I wasn’t afraid to stand out any more. I wear sunglasses when I feel like it. I turn of the lights when people turn it on for me, and I tell them it’s too bright for me. They never understand, but they have slowly begun to accept it. It may only make my life a little easier to handle, but every little bit makes all the difference.

The first article I wrote about this is called Hypersensitivity, and in case you want to know more about this topic, it’s a great place to start. You can also just skip to any of the other senses, which are: Hearing, Smell, Touch or Taste.


Life with Autism Spectrum Disorder is not always easy, but it doesn't have to be impossible. Since I was diagnosed myself, I have been trying to raise autism awareness and share my own experiences and thoughts about life as well as my search for a happy and fulfilling life.

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