Light play

Frances has been playing with light since she was 9 months old. She would often grab my booklight and look at it with a big smile on her face!

Over the years, she has developed many different ways of interacting with light and light-emitting toys.

One thing that she still loves to do is to turn switches on and off very rapidly over and over again. 

Like many behaviours, this one has disappeared and reappeared several times.

We discourage it (for safety reasons) with explanations and distractions–other means of light play available to her are harmless. 

But as long as she can play with light, she is happy!

Table of lights 

This was taken at the local children’s hospital (at which we spend so much of our time).

Frances was there to see her occupational therapist who has most recently helped Frances with having her hair brushed.

She’s playing at the touch-enabled light table. If we only had one of those!

The light fantastic

Frances has a wonderful relationship with light — her lifelong fascination has enabled her to distinguish between two closely related shades of a colour seen months apart. (In fact, she couldn’t concentrate on anything other than the fact that the blue playdough at the play centre was slightly lighter than it had been six months earlier, and I remember that her complaints confused the other children in nearby activity centres.)

Since the age of nine months, she has been drawn to light-emitting objects to the degree that she can’t be redirected, from switching lights on and off to finding our hidden flashlights. I know that it will be an especially difficult bedtime if she has discovered something like a flashlight just beforehand. In fact, in so many of our photos she holds a lighted object in her hand!

Her intense interest has helped me to more fully appreciate the properties of light, even though I can’t quite manage the visual games that she plays with luminous sources.

(In the above photo, Frances is interested in a shiny necklace near her glowing robot. She is four years old.)

Flashing lights

I posted recently about how change can produce meltdowns.

Yesterday, there was a good example of how too much visual information can produce meltdowns.

At the hospital at which she had an appointment, there was a test of the fire alarm system. Unfortunately, this partly consisted of several lights silently pulsing.

At first, Frances tried to hide from the lights. Then, in a darker area of the reception space, she got distracted by stackable molded chairs and the opportunity to climb and to rock.

But a headache had set in for her and nothing seemed to help: removing glasses, avoiding looking at lights, crying.

She definitely didn’t want to go to school afterward.

We’re very accustomed to sound bothering her, but visual things overstimulate her, too.

(She actually loves light and is very drawn to anything that emits light, but, in this case, there was just too much and she couldn’t control it.)