Visually interesting effects that may appeal to a person with autism

These gifs display visual effects that a person with autism may find particularly appealing, or even fascinating. Many young children with autism are fascinated by changing colours and the movement these produce. The erratic, unpredictable movements of bubbles, and the every-changing colours produced in sunlight are a constant form of entertainment for children. Similarly, the glitter represents another visual stimulus. When a child feels as though his/her vision is under stimulated, they often produce their own effects to focus upon. This is usually in the form of flapping their fingers rapidly in front of their eyes, or spinning around, effectively blocking out the world and entering into their own state of blurred shapes. Also similar effects can be obtained by running sand or glitter, something with very fine particles, in front of their eyes. This also ensures that they can focus on nothing but the stimulating visual effects taking place just in front of them.  

Sensory Rooms

Visual Input And Lighting

A good sensory room will have controllable light sources and light therapy.Most importantly, make sure there are absolutely no fluorescent lights (they are bothersome even to people without sensory processing disorders)! Color cubes,fiber optic light sources, rope lights, and/or low wattage pastel colored light bulbs are all good ideas.


Additional visual accommodations and equipment can include: play tents/huts, lava lamps, bubble columns, wall water fountains (or tabletop), and liquid light projectors.

These are sensory rooms which are often found in special schools, nurseries and children's hospices. As you can see, the visual aspect is really important in these environments. The colours are chosen to be either calming or stimulating for the children using them, as are the lighting effects. For children who don't experience their senses in the same ways that many other people do, this is an opportunity for them to have their senses stimulated in a safe, educational environment. Screens and bubbles are popular, as calming music is played quietly, and children can interact with the equipment in the room.

I find the strings of lights particularly interesting, because the child can surround themselves with it, wrapping this around their body, or holding/moving the lights close to their eyes. This interactive element is what really fascinates me about these rooms, and I'd like to research further what other specialist equipment children may have access to.   


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