Many students with Autism have heightened senses. People often understand that loud classrooms can be difficult, but less people realise that sensory perception difficulties can affect other senses too; one that is often missed is how students can be affected visually. For some students these difficulties can make brightness hard for them to cope with, especially for extended periods of time.
So if you have a student who seems to struggle more when it’s bright, or someone who loves using ICT equipment but seems to get overwhelmed during the task, this is something worth checking out. Likewise if a student becomes disengaged when a sheet of white paper is put in front of them, this could well be worth checking out. You don’t need to do complicated tests, just have a quick chat with the student about why they are finding things tricky. Be open and honest, tell them you really want to help them, and ask how you can make things easier.
If together you decide that brightness is the problem, think about what you can do to reduce glare. The following strategies may help for some students:
- Sitting the student away from windows,
- Dim lights in the area of the classroom where the student sits.
- Try photocopying worksheets on to a different colour of paper (talk to the student about which colours are best)
- Turn down the brightness on computer screens and interactive whiteboards.
- Think about trying coloured overlays.
This is easy differentiation. Differentiation that involves no preparation but that will make a big difference. Why not give it a try?