The power of light to change your world for good
Light Notes banner

Showtime, stimming – and wiggly worms

Little boy with swimming goggles squinting into the sunshine.

The IALD’s Enlighten Europe kicks off this Thursday afternoon with an open invitation to the Lighting Industry Resource Council meeting at the Zumtobel showroom in Islington. We’ve a rare chance to hear from the other side of the pond with Andrea Hartranft’s keynote on Friday morning. We’ll then be treated to a brilliant line-up covering topics from sustainability to story telling, wrapping up with the Lights of London on the Thames. Do get in touch if you’ll be there and would like to meet for a coffee! – Enlighten Schedule.


Summer Solstice

The 20th of June kicks off the astronomical summer with the longest day of the year.

While some of us love the sun, for others, especially those with sensory processing differences, the bright light and sharp shadows can be, literally, a headache – Implications of Sensory Processing and Attentional Differences Associated With Autism in Academic Settings: An Integrative Review.

The problem is that people with neurodivergent profiles need sunlight more than most:


So how can you make the most of the sunshine and keep your cool? – It’s Not Rocket Science.

  1. Get out early in the day while the sun is still low in the sky
  2. Wear a cap and sunglasses to reduce glare and distractions
  3. Install sheer curtains and blinds  to cut down reflections and heat


It will be winter again soon enough!



I’m always banging on about the need for calm spaces to support hypersensitive people – perhaps because I know how that feels myself.

But what about people who are hypo-sensitive, or ‘sensation-seeking’? 

What do we know about how their eyes and brains work – and what does that mean for the lights? – ‘People should be allowed to do what they like’: Autistic adults’ views and experiences of stimming.

  1. The autonomic nervous system (the system that drives arousal) seems to function differently in people with ADHD and Autism profiles: it tends to be hypo or under (rather than hyper-) active at rest or during tasks that demand response regulation and sustained attention, so offering the option to increase the light levels or add a focused beam, spotlight, a reflective toy or ‘fidget’ may help a neurodivergent colleague to regulate and stay engaged – Is autonomic nervous system function atypical in attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)? A systematic review of the evidence.
  2. Visual search, or where you direct your eyes, is one critical element of attention regulation and recognition of social cues, such as facial expressions. These patterns of eye movements and fixations are different in people on the autistic spectrum as early as the first years of life, which may help to explain some of the difficulties with reading and communication – A comparison of visual attention to pictures in the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule in children and adolescents with ADHD and/or autismDifferent Eye Tracking Patterns in Autism Spectrum Disorder in Toddler and Preschool Children. So making sure the lighting is clear and balanced, avoiding deep or confusing shadows in zones where you need to connect – at a reception desk or check-out, in a meeting room or on a video call, will help to create a relaxed and supportive atmosphere.
  3. People on the autistic spectrum also tend to experience a bigger difference between the centre and the edges of the visual field than neurotypical people, contributing to the ‘tunnel vision’ or focus on local details rather than global features of a scene. This difference may also affect the ability to form memories as this is linked to our ability to associate or create connections between different dimensions of a situation – Local Processing Bias Impacts Implicit and Explicit Memory in AutismMaking sure lighting is coherent and consistent, using similar colour temperatures in a zone like a kitchen for example, will help to keep the bigger picture in mind. 


Most of all, offering choice, control and respect will help everyone to be their best.


Worms against light pollution  

Back on my allotment and loving those those wiggly worms.

They don’t have eyes at all – they sense light through their skin.

I knew they were good for the soil, but I had no idea they stopped invasive weeds too, including invasive ragweed, whose pollen is a killer for people who suffer from hay fever.

It turns out that light pollution – just five lux – at night, is enough to reduce earth worm activity by 75% – and leave the ragweed to run wild – Artificial light at night reduces earthworm activity but increases growth of invasive ragweed.

Another reason to campaign for dark skies!

Get in touch!