On December 4th this year we held the fourth and final Wirral Autistic Society internal conference of the year and it was one which had a jaw dropping effect on all of the delegates. The theme of the conference was Vision Perception and Autism.

We were incredibly fortunate to secure research optician, Ian Jordan, as keynote speaker of the day. Ian is based in Ayr, Scotland and works with people who have neurological conditions that affect their perception and uses meticulously refined coloured lenses, which he has developed from over 20 years research, to correct various difficulties. Many of his clients are people with autism and Ian and his team use their research findings to assess and manage visual perception in others and its effects on all sensory systems.


Ian Jordan, keynote speaker of the day


His theory is that some everyday lighting conditions can have an adverse effect on certain people with perceptual difficulties. Prosopagnosia, or facial blindness, affects about 2.5% of the population but around half the number of people who are on the autistic spectrum.

Ian’s new treatment involves lights comprising 16 million colours which can change how the eyes process information. Once a colour is found which normalises the patient’s sight, Ian can then prescribe suitable lenses.

Ian used many video examples of patients who have been successfully treated using the lenses and one 17 year old on the spectrum shared “that without glasses, people look quite scary to me because their faces are distorted. I can only see one feature at a time so if I focus on someone’s eye for example their other eye looks like it is up where their eyebrow should be. When I put the glasses on everything looks a hundred times better.”

Ian used an arsenal of exercises on “willing” members of the conference which were entertaining, amusing – at least for those not involved! – but above all, illuminating regarding the effect that degrees of the facial blindness has on the individual. There were a number of delegates who gained great insight into their own sensory perceptions and left the rest of us eager to have as many individuals on the spectrum tested for this all too common condition.

Unfortunately, the practice is not wide spread with only Ian’s company engaging in it on the NHS and only one other private practice in England able to diagnose. Hopefully corrective work on this truly amazing condition will become more widespread in the near future.
Our heartfelt thanks go to Ian for a very informative and entertaining contribution to our conference. He left pressed with an invitation to return in the future to cascade his continually increasing knowledge to a wider audience.

The conference ended with another video from our Life Journey series. Philip, one of the members of the Society’s social group, Connected, shared his experience of being a person on the autistic spectrum. Philip was given a diagnosis late (in his 40s) but this suddenly made sense of many issues Philip has had to contend with since childhood.

Many thanks to Philip for sharing these normally very private experiences with us all in a bid to increase the knowledge others have of this very complex but fascinating condition.

Yvonne Crowhurst
Autism Practice & Development