It’ll be All Light on the Night

25 Apr

M has autism. Oh yeah, I might have mentioned that once or twice. We are fortunate that she is considered high functioning, which basically means she can speak and she doesn’t have any specific learning difficulties. However, this does not take into account the severity of her reaction to change.

Not all change mind you. If I offered her a chocolate bar instead of Weetabix for breakfast I have little doubt that she’d be pretty cheerful about the change to her weekday diet. But in general she does like things to stay the same. If she is having a particularly bad day even giving her a plate she doesn’t often use can flip her switch and off she goes into a screaming rant, or worse, a full-on meltdown.

So imagine my dismay yesterday when I noticed something happening to the lamp-posts along the seafront road. There was a van, and a pair of workmen involved, and I wondered what had happened to the power supply that all the lamps were on in broad daylight. M was instantly on high alert, demanding to know why the lamps were on, what the men were doing, and they weren’t going to be changing anything were they?

In the event it was late afternoon before I could ask anyone as the events of yesterday on the beach and a hospital appointment took up most of the day, but finally I asked one of the workmen why the lamps were being changed, as by this point it was obvious they were.

This is what the lamp outside our house looked like yesterday morning:


And here is a slightly newer-looking version that is round in a road further from the shore:



If you like lamps (and I must confess I do, I am often looking at and photographing unusual ones) then I think you’ll agree that they are quite stylish. However, the salt in the sea air doesn’t agree with the thin metal strips that hold the lamp to the base and most of them are fairly badly corroded. So, the council, not wanting anyone to sue for death or damages if a lamp corroded through and toppled onto someone’s head or car, decided to replace them. I applaud this wisdom in considering our safety, especially as we park our car outside the house and one of those falling would make a considerable dent in the roof, to say nothing of someone’s head.

But they have replaced it with this:



M is not a happy camper. It’s the wrong shape. It’s the wrong style. It’s got a different shaped light inside (I had to check this but it would appear that she’s right although how the heck she can see when she’s only 6 is beyond me). You name it, she could find  a dozen reasons for this being a “bad thing”.

Luckily apart from some world-class whining about the subject she didn’t lose her temper. But it all came back again at bed time. The lamp shines into the room, and when the lights inside are off, in the dead of night, it’s comforting for her (and me to be honest here) to have some gentle light from outside. She was asleep soon after 8pm (that melatonin is a great invention) but when she woke in the night like she often does the first thing she noticed was that “the light is wrong Mumma”. You cannot put anything past this kid! It’s subtle but the light is now more white, less glowing and ever so slightly more harsh. It took ages to get her back to sleep and frankly I don’t think she slept deeply. Consequently neither did I but I’m used to it by now.

So, while it’s a good thing that I am now statistically less likely to be killed by street furniture (as I believe it’s termed) it has not been good for M’s anxieties. She was talking about the lights again this afternoon, and I was heartened that she has fully understood why they have been changed even if she isn’t enjoying the change. And maybe next time there is an unexpected change she might be able to again process it without losing her control.



4 Responses to “It’ll be All Light on the Night”

  1. depressionbloggers April 25, 2013 at 3:38 pm #

    This is really fascinating to me…we’ve had a similar experience lately. As a part of a major, months-long renewal project, our street is being completely revamped. The plan includes taking out over 100 mature and shady elm trees in the easement, two of which are in front of our house. The city informed us ahead of time, but when giant pink “X” marks appeared on the trees last week, it was like a death sentence. The next day our trees were halfway gone, with the carcasses left in front of the house. Our daughter (who is 20 years old but has always had serious trouble with emotions related to change) wept and moaned inconsolably for almost two days, and finally shared with me she was grieving as if there were a death in the family. Change in life-long, comfortable situations can be hard for anyone, but some of us have a heavier burden to bear than others. Hoping your daughter can find peace with your streetlight issue soon.

    • ouremuk66 April 25, 2013 at 9:10 pm #

      Thank you so much for your comment. I can imagine the loss of those trees all too clearly, your poor daughter 😦 M was drawn to the window tonight as I was closing the curtains and she is still quite upset about the light not being yellow “like it was before”. She is right of course, as I said it is a whiter light now. And if I’m being picky it’s the wrong shape of light, if a light can be a shape. I don’t mean the physical container, but the brightness.
      Anyway I digress. Fortunately there has been no tantrum over it, but I shall be on alert for her waking in the small hours. If it takes a long time for her to settle again it will be the only thing that has changed.

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