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The Autism Network for Deaf/Hard of Hearing
and Blind/Visually Impaired

Autism Research Institute
4182 Adams Avenue
San Diego, California 92116 USA


Article by Margaret P. Creedon, Ph.D. titled "Autism and Sight or Hearing Loss: The Diagnostic Challenges of Dual Disorders."



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This practical guide demystifies the research about biochemical abnormalities in individuals with autism and provides authoritative nutritional recommendations for addressing the medical symptoms associated with the disease.
This practical guide demystifies the research about biochemical abnormalities in individuals with autism and provides authoritative nutritional recommendations for addressing the medical symptoms associated with Autism.
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Every winter brings changes and/or disruptions in activities and scheduling.  The extreme weather this year however, is almost unprecedented -- and has resulted in changes which many times could not have been predicted.  Consequently, many have been forced into developing new coping skills. 

This issue is devoted to sensory issues associated with weather-related concerns, and we hope that the information may aid our members in adapting and thriving.

Above all, we hope that each and every one of our members are safe and warm. 

Margaret Creedon, Ph.D., ABPP

and Steve Edelson, Ph.D. 




We all have a preferred room temperature level which is usually related to how warm or cool we like our bodies to feel. Regulating the body's core temperature through our autonomic neural feedback system helps us to keep a balance between our internal temperature and different room and outside environments. Most individuals on the spectrum have some sensory processing differences; they may experience over-heating or feel cold much more rapidly or slowly in different environments.


Sometimes we can ascribe temperature regulation issues to "general irritability," texture preferences, or more general over- and under-reactivity to the environment. For example, an individual on the spectrum may go without a coat; be unwilling to take off a layer of clothing; only eat foods at certain temperatures; or take a bath in water of an extreme temperature.


Sometimes in schools and workplaces, room temperatures are not well-controlled, contributing to discomfort and fatigue from sensory overload. In trying to deal with these feelings, a person on the spectrum might react by shutting down or having a "melt down," thereby increasing his/her risk to harm from actual environmental conditions. This potential harm can be compounded if the individual happens to be a "wanderer" and may find him/herself away from appropriate warming and/or cooling sources.


To help combat such wandering events, the U.S. Dept. of Justice has created a new program to provide devices to families who need help monitoring their children with autism and other developmental disorders. The U.S. Attorney General has existing grant money and will accept applications from local police departments who would then distribute the tracking devices.


For more information, visit:




The shorter days with reduced hours of light, as well as weather conditions with reduced visibility, may trigger Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) -- which can affect sleep/wake cycles, energy and mood. These disturbances can also be related to where one lives, family history of other relatives with sleep disorders, and/or depression. Feeling "out of sync" can make it difficult to concentrate and may lead to social withdrawal. If you have noticed changes in yourself and/or a family member during this time of year (especially on very cloudy or overcast days), you may want to discuss this matter with a physician.


Some individuals on the spectrum may demonstrate cycles of behavioral challenges. In these cases, it may be helpful to consider both programmatic and biological issues. For example, perhaps it is time to change content in school or work materials; alter behavioral plans for "met goals" or consider re-evaluating the respective criteria before weighing the pros and cons of additional medication. Following physical and mental health evaluations, an easy-to-implement mood-improving option might be to simply include more access to appropriate light sources. 



Because of changes in temperature and light, (not to mention the extreme weather much of the country has recently experienced), many of us  have been spending even more time indoors than usual.  Children and teens on the spectrum spend more solitary time on electronic devices than their peers and often use more defined lighting preferences related to their personal sensitivity.


Our Network members  also spend more and more time on daily communication and education tasks. In addition, individuals with visual impairments often use magnification screens and contrast adaptations to read their school texts and other readings.  Deaf and hearing impaired individuals also have access to numerous online texts as well as closed-captioned  and signing videos.  


While we are all addicted to our devices to a certain extent, it is important to take precautions to prevent the countless hours of TV/iPad/Kindle/computer monitor watching from taking a toll on our vision. Below are a few tips to help prevent eye strain (which can lead to headaches, which of course, affects mood):


Follow the 20/20 rule


Ophthalmologists recommend taking at the bare minimum a 20-second break every 20 minutes. The break can be looking out the window; turning your head and focusing at a point on the wall or on objects around the room; or simply closing your eyes for 20 seconds (which has the added bonus of providing a modicum of relaxation). The point is to cease the straight-ahead focus on the screen because eye muscles fixed in one position may lead to eye fatigue, frequent headaches, and temporary blurred vision.


Make sure there is adequate light. Too much or too little light may contribute to eye strain. Using curtains or blinds to limit the brightness of the sun and avoiding sitting directly under fluorescent lighting are two simple ways to avoid headaches and eye strain caused by excessive light. On the flip side, not enough light reduces contrast, which makes it harder for the eyes to distinguish between different images and can also lead to eye strain.


Reduce glare. Glare is a leading cause of eye strain, and it can be reduced by purchasing an anti-glare screen for your computer monitor. Limiting bright light from outside is another efficient way to reduce glare.


Adjust the "blue" color on computer monitors.

Monitors have controls that enable you to control the color balance. Blue light is a shorter wavelength light that is associated with eye strain as compared to the longer color wavelengths of oranges and reds.  


Make sure you are at the proper distance from the electronic device. Your computer monitor or hand-held device should be at a comfortable distance: 18 to 30 inches is generally recommended for computer monitors; 15-17 inches for an iPad, and 12 inches for a smartphone.


In conclusion, it is important that we all learn ways to avoid eye fatigue, especially  children who are starting at a relatively young age. Time to move your eyes!


Related links:

-- Computer Vision Syndrome


-- Computer Use and Eye Strain