Autism Classroom Lighting: Best Practices
Autism classroom lighting can have a significant impact on students' ability to focus and learn. One factor that is often overlooked is the level of light in the room. There are many ways that teachers can use lighting to help their students with special needs, such as those who are autistic, to be more successful. For example, use calming lights instead of harsh bright lighting. Install Light Filters to soften the blue light that causes light sensitivity. The first thing you’ll need to know is how lighting can affect children with autism. But the benefits of improving your classroom's lighting isn’t just beneficial for students with light sensitivity. Creating an autism friendly environment is great for all types of learners.
How Does Classroom Lighting Affect Children With Autism?
Autism effects the way a person experiences their world. Autism is defined as neurodevelopmental disorders that can cause problems with social interaction and communication, among other things. But lighting has been found to be one of the most important factors in creating an autism friendly environment. Autism light sensitivity causes children to get overwhelmed by bright lights and loud noises when they are in the classroom. This can cause them to become agitated and disinterested in the lesson. Autism can also cause children to get distracted by their own thoughts or sensory input, which is why it's important for teachers to create a calming environment using lights that don't produce harmful uv rays.
Students with autism can often experience " sensory overload". This means that the world around them becomes very overwhelming and can cause them to focus in on one singular sound, object, or noise. When experiencing sensory overload, it is nearly impossible for the student to be in a healthy learning state. They can also be disruptive to other students. Often times these disruptions are unintentional, but the result of sensory overload is still a disruption.
The good news for teachers and parents of students with Autism is that there are many ways to create a more calming environment. For example, classroom lighting can be changed so it isn't too bright or distracting to children who have Autism. This will help facilitate learning because their minds won't wander as much when they don't have any visual stimuli around them that could cause sensory overload.
Use Calm Lights to Reduce Sensory Overload
When designing you classroom for students with autism you should take sensory overload into consideration. Calm lights are calm because they don't have UV or Blue light which can cause sensory overload for people who are sensitive to that type of lighting. There are also calm lights that are specifically designed for children and adults on the spectrum as well as other types of sensitivities.
You may be wondering why calm lights would help reduce sensory sensitivity in your classroom if it isn't a calming color itself, but that's where the importance of design comes into play. The light wavelength affects how we see colors differently so different wavelengths offers us more contrast between hues increasing our ability to distinguish one hue from another e.g., red versus green becomes easier when using calm blue-free LEDS.
Classroom Light Filters for Students with Autism
Many classrooms were built with fluorescent ceiling lights. Which makes sense because they are cost effective and energy efficient. However, these are the type of lights that cause classroom lighting problems for students with autism because they flicker at up to 100 times per second. This makes them seem brighter than intended and can be harsh on the eyes if you have a sensitivity to light or aren't wearing your glasses/contacts.
Light covers (filters) reduce high frequency glare, which is otherwise known as "scotopic sensitivity syndrome." Octo Lights Fluorescent Light Covers are a great option for all classrooms. They also reduce the UV and Blue light emitted which are shown to stimulate the eyes and brain. Often causing undue stress, anxiety and sensory overload.
Create Autism Friendly Environment for all Types of Learners
You want to create a fantastic environment for all types of learners. This is beneficial to students with Autism as well as other disabilities and learning styles. As a result, you want to create an autism friendly environment in your classroom by using sensory lights and lighting techniques that will work best for everyone on the spectrum.
One of the key aspects of an autism friendly classroom is using soft and natural lighting over harsh artificial lighting. For example, using sensory lights are a great way to improve lighting for students with Autism.
Sensory room lights can be found on Amazon or through any local lighting store. They typically come in large dome shapes that provide the perfect soft light your classroom needs. These types of lights also allow you to control brightness and minimize shadows which help create an autism friendly environment.
Creating comfortable seating is another key aspect of having an autism friendly environment. Allowing your students to find the type of seating that works best for them will improve their focus and learning ability.
You can create comfortable seating by using bean bag chairs, pillows or soft mats on the floor. For some students it may be beneficial to have a personal seat cushion that they bring from home for additional comfort when sitting in class all day long.
Another staple of an autism classrooms are hands on learning centers. These stations can be used to engage students in a variety of different subjects. They are always great for taking the attention off other distractions and focusing on one task at hand. When organizing your learning centers, it is important that they are organized by color or theme. This will allow students to easily find what they need without having to search all over the room.
If you’ve found yourself in the classroom with one or more students on the autism spectrum, then you know how difficult it can be to create an environment that is both accessible and welcoming for them. The lighting alone can pose a problem due to sensory overload which not only makes learning challenging but also causes stress. That’s why we recommend using calm lights to reduce sensory overload. Check out our blog post about creating your perfect autism friendly classroom by browsing Octo Lights today!