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Hello all,


This is my first post here and likely to be a bit off the wall from what is usually asked here. My son is 11 years old and suffers from Autistic Spectrum Disorder, which means that he doesn't communicate with anybody.


This makes life hard in many different ways, also affecting Birthdays and Christmas, since his likes are unconventional and he has no way to tell us what he wants. Usually, we don't get him anything as we have spent money before, only for gifts to be ignored. Instead we save the money and treat him to the day at a theme park, like Chessington World of Adventures as we know he likes that.


Anyway, most autistic people are very 'sensory', they like textures, or lights, or water, or sounds - things like that.


So, this year's Christmas project is for me to rig some kind of light show up in his room, preferably one that I can sync to some calming music - that would be nice.


It will probably be ceiling mounted, or on a wall. His room is in the loft, so we have a ceiling but it has a couple of feet of flat at the top, it doesn't go to a point inside.


Battery operated would be good if there are decent, low consumption LED systems out there, but I would be willing to have something hard-wired if I have to. I'm pretty ignorant as to what's on the market or what would be the best thing to get, so that's why I'm here; to ask the help of people like you that know.


I'd like a variety of patterns if possible, he get's bored quickly, so the more variety, the better. Oh, and durable would be good, or one that i could mostly encase if needed.


If you guys could help then that would be really good and it would bring a little bit of joy to my son, Jack. It would also be nice for me to get him something that he will almost certainly enjoy. We don't talk football or cars, in fact we don't talk at all. we all want to make our kids happy, so that's what I am trying to do here.


Maybe I have missed something that you need, so if I have, please let me know and I will be happy to give you any further information.


Thank you in advance,


Sorry, 5th paragraph should say:


It will probably be ceiling mounted, or on a wall. His room is in the loft, so we have a pitched ceiling but it has a couple of feet of flat at the top, it doesn't go to a point inside.

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Hi Nick & Welcome to the forum :D . Sorry for the delay but this forum is very quiet and largely abandoned these days, so please don't think that the lack of replies means that we are ignoring your question or don't want to help, it just takes some time to gather ideas.


I think it may be difficult to get all of your requirements from one lighting unit, and so your project may have to incorporate two or more different ideas if all of the boxes are to be ticked. But this can be a good thing in some respects, so if Jack gets bored of one effect, you can then switch on the next


The first suggestion which springs to mind is Colour changing LED Tape. This is safe, flexible and self adhesive and is designed to be run along the edges of flat surfaces, such as wood beams, under cupboards or even around walls where they join the ceiling, a decent length of this tape will probably run around the entire room at ceiling height, where it wouldn't need any additional casing or protection. Its also very bright, and comes with a remote controller which allow the lights to be selected in one colour, dimmed or run through an entire sequence of built in "light show" style programs, so you could change the program sequence to maintain Jack's interest. They can also be set to slowly fade and merge through their entire colour range, which can be relaxing. They use a safe 12v to operate, although a long length of tape will be far too much to run from batteries, you could mount a suitable power supply inside a plastic box, where it couldn't be accessed




There is also a sound activated version available




There are also a number of rippling water projection effects on the market, also powered by an LED Source so they do remain cool, the only drawback is that they are mains operated, however you could mount it high up on a wall, and either point its projected effect at the floor, or onto the wall opposite. Here is a link to one such water effect, the listing also contains a video at the bottom of the page so you can see what it looks like




I imagine that this effect would also be worth considering, it would fill his entire room with 100's of moving, colour changing light beams




And here is an effect which projects rotating multiple beams, and changes the shape of each beam / colour to the music etc




Does Jack use any sensory communication aids?,there used to be some touch panels which were illuminated and used different coloured lights behind them. Touching the different textured panels, caused the colour to change and a different recorded phrase to be emitted. Some non verbal Children were able to eventually link pressing the coloured and textured panels to communicating a phrase to those around them - such as "I'm hungry" etc


One other slightly off topic but relevant point which may also help in making Jack's surroundings a little more comfortable. I once read a detailed report that fluorescent lighting can be distressing and unsettling to people who have any level of autism, something to do with the high level of flickering involved in their operation.This of course does not only apply to conventional fluorescent lights but also low energy (CFL) lights often routinely used to replace filament bulbs in the home, so you may wish to eventually replace the lamps used in your ordinary room lighting fixtures with LED or Halogen types rather than the high street CFL type. You may already be aware of this, but I thought it was worth mentioning.

Edited by McCardle

"The voice of the devil is heard in our land"


'War doesn't determine who is right, war determines who is left, and you wont win this war.'

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  • 4 weeks later...

Hello McCardle,


My turn to apologise - sometimes life just gets in the way!


Firstly, I would like to address the kindness of strangers, which you have indeed demonstrated here, and it is something so very much appreciated. So let me say thank you. Thank you for the time you have taken to address my questions, thank you for trying to help my little boy, and to maybe give him some joy for his life, where he is often excluded and misunderstood.


You have made some excellent and carefully thought out suggestions and I will definitely put your ideas to good use. I like the way you ask about sensory communication, and your comments on fluorescent lighting. I like the way that you have taken an interest and I wonder are you affected by autism, or do you know somebody that is? If not, then you're well informed, or full of empathy, or maybe both.


We have tried Jack with all types of communication but none have taken his fancy so far. We will wait, and maybe one day my prayers will be answered.


So, for now I am very happy for the kindness of strangers, and I am so grateful for your advice.


You might like to read a blog that I have read all of. It's about somebody very much like me, trying to bring up his little autistic bundle. He calls himself Clement Hoots and there are a couple of entries below that you might enjoy.


Here is a bad day

Here is a better day


And there are other entries.


Maybe you'll like this. It's not for the faint hearted though.


Thank you again. If I get stuck then I will be back if that's OK with you.


All the best,


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Hi Nick,


Thanks for the reply, don't worry about the late reply, we all just pop in and out of the forum as time allows!.


I'm not a parent (or caregiver) to somebody with Autism, nor do I work with them directly so my experience is somewhat lacking, however like a lot of DJ's I have attended a lot of events at both Mainstream and special Schools and Centres for Children and Young Adults at all levels of the Spectrum. I also have a Godson who has Aspergers, which although not Autism per se' does share some of the same challenges and characteristics, especially in relation to communication, forming friendships and social skills, which for Cameron, have also been very difficult, and in some aspects, sadly, non existent. I try to see things from his point of view, in that it must be difficult and frustrating being in his, somewhat lonely world and struggling to communicate his feelings with us, in his own way.


Needless to say I've spent a lot of my spare time on the internet over the last few years researching ways in which I can communicate better with my Godson, and maybe make life a little bit less frightening and frustrating for him, hence I came across many articles on Fluorescent lighting, and other papers, often written in respect of understanding Autism.


So sadly, i'm by no means an expert on the subject, but I can also identify with the fact that even the smallest breakthroughs can be extremely rewarding. All I can say is that never give up believing in Jack or that one day he will find a way to communicate with you


One thing that I have found out from doing the Discos at these events is that light can play a very big part in engaging the attention of some Children and Young People with Autism. Ok, sometimes this attention can be very brief and fleeting, but it is there. This is why I mentioned the colour changing led strips and those effects which give more than one shape or pattern, so when one effect loses its appeal (or didn't appeal in the first place), the interest can once again be rekindled by simply changing the effect or shape. I also noticed that some people will react differently to one colour than another.


How does Jack react to new or unfamilar places?, one thing which I was going to suggest is to perhaps take him along to a local disco equipment showroom, with a wide and varied selection of effects on display, and basically see if there is any particular effect which when switched on, will engage his attention. Obviously if he finds such places to be distressing then the idea is a non starter, but i'm sure that you will find that there are places which are run by understanding people, who will be happy to try and help.


Thanks for sharing the blog pages, they make very interesting reading and are certainly an eye opener, there are gilmmers of hope and inspiration in them also.


Feel free to come back and ask any more questions.

"The voice of the devil is heard in our land"


'War doesn't determine who is right, war determines who is left, and you wont win this war.'

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