It's getting to the time of year where there are festive decorations and lights covering the streets. I have to admit I crave the visual stimulation of certain Christmas lights and last year enjoyed three outings to various nearby Christmas light trails. I can still visualise some of the incredible light patterns I saw and instantly recall the sense of inner calm and relief I felt watching them.
In a couple of weeks time i'm off to my first lihht walk of the year and I am excited to see what wonders await. One of this year’s planned light events is 1738m up a mountain in Austria, as my fascination for illumination quite literally takes on new heights.
Like most things in my brain, saying I like something isn’t as clear cut as for most people. I can love Christmas lights in some places that I visit, but at other times Christmas lights can quickly cause my brain to overload. I believe for me it is caused by my executive functioning and sensory processing being stretched to capacity and quickly becoming overwhelmed.
These processing systems can cope with magnificent light displays when they are the focus of my attention, but a small less intense display in a high street or shopping centre has a negative effect because I am having to use my available processing energy on other things.
For example, Danielle loves big light displays and has fairy lights in several rooms in her house. However, any kind of decoration or lights in a busy shop are far too much for her brain to tolerate. She is trying to concentrate on finding the items she needs, tolerate queues and other sensory issues such as smell. She just about copes on a regular day. Throw in Christmas and she avoids these shops at all costs now and shops online. But ask her to fireworks or a huge light display and she is there! Because all her attention and focus is on that one thing.
It is the same with home decorations and I find it essential to have areas with no decorations. I tend to leave my dining room sparse so I am able to use my sensory processing and executive functioning on eating and trying to be sociable.
It is often not as simple as "X" is too much, but more a matter of "X" has its place!