“Some scenes have a strobing effect,” warns each episode of the latest season of Stranger Things, “that may affect photosensitive viewers.” Know up front that not all such scenes are created equal; the opening sequence to episode six is much harsher than anything that comes before or after.
It’s the only scene I couldn’t watch. I tried squinting, I tried hiding most of the screen behind my hand. It remained too painful to endure.
What’s great about this, if anything can be said to be great about this, is that strobing effects now are my go-to example of how one can manage to go until middle-age before being diagnosed as autistic.
I’ve talked before about how there is a very strong gravitational pull toward conformity. (Actually, I’ve referred to this as a “background radiation” but have come to feel that gravity might be a better metaphor). Even if yours is a more typical neurotype, this gravitational force exerts itself upon you for your entire life.
The reality is that strobing effects have been physically painful to me for as long as I can remember, but I’d simply assumed it was like that for everyone and so it never occurred to me to be something to bring up.
Much of what afflicts me as part of my particular autism spectrum is like this: an experience of stimuli I’d assumed was common.
It wasn’t until diagnosis, and all the reading I did afterward, as you do, that I discovered the world did not push itself this severely upon both body and mind for everyone else. It was the way I experienced things and under the influence of gravitational conformity I assumed it was the way everyone experienced things, because even if against our will or in our ignorance, we all are drawn toward appearing typical.