Skip to content

The Effect of Colors in Autistic Children | Color Preferences in Children with Autism

Occupational therapy for Autistic children

Many cultures have used colors as a way to heal and to achieve balance in life. According to an old Chinese psychology that was developed 3000 years ago by Feng Shui, colors affect the way we act, our mental activity and our physical appearances. The meaning we draw from colors and the emotions we attach to them are highly subjective, across different cultures of the world. The concept of color psychology or chromology explains the usage of colors and their relation with the emotions. Though we use colors according to different practices of our cultures, basically these colors reflect particular
emotions. When all the normal people feel such differences while seeing various colors around them, it is important to realize how the colors affect the people with Autism. When we try to understand the world of Autistic people, it is evident that their perception differs from the normal people. The implications of colors that have on Autistic people have to be understood in order to take care of the usage of colors.

What is the Difference?

For an Autistic child, the lights look very brighter, the sounds louder, touch intense and the smells seem stronger while the colors look even brighter. But, why does this difference occur? What makes the colors more vibrant and more intense for Autistic people? The children with Autism Spectrum Disorder have anomalies in their eye-structure. Due to some chemical imbalances and neural deficits, the rod cells and cone cells present in their eyes experience different changes. Many studies have revealed that 85% of the Autistic children perceive the colors more intensely in comparison to the normal children. Grey tones and dull colors have a calming effect, while blue and green colors also have a soothing and calming effect on them. Red color could bring tantrums from Autistic children as it could evoke pain associated with certain parts of the body. White color could make them feel depressive and excessively tired. In many of the studies conducted, pale ink color has been nominated as the favorite color of Autistic children.
Isn’t it amusing to know how to use colors to help them?

How Does This Help?

Knowledge is power. Knowing how to solve the difficulties using colors can empower those who deal with Autistic people, in resolving mood disorders. The colors such as yellow, orange and purple improve energy levels and attention. So, with the help of these colors, an introverted child can be treated to enhance learning. For a hyperactive child, the energy levels will always be high and then using the colors such as blue and green can have a calming effect. Chromatherapy is the concept of using colors for relieving symptoms of chronic pain, depression, anxiety, insomnia and other conditions.

Child playing with colorful objects
Child playing with colorful objects

Chromotherapy uses mind’s response to color as a tool to relieve chronic ailments such as depression, anxiety, insomnia etc.

Calming Blue

While the normal blue color evokes the feelings of sadness, different hues of blues such as light blue and turquoise provide serene and stress reducing agents in the brain of an Autistic child. Chroma therapy uses the light blue tones for treating pain, depression and sadness while the darker shades of blue are used for sedative purposes for treating insomnia. Blue color is also associated with many feelings like freedom, thought, free spirit, loyalty, and wellness etc. In fact, blue hues offer a shade for every purpose under the sun.

Natural Green

Most of us experience a lively fresh feeling when we see the natural green color. Green symbolizes tranquility and freshness, which makes an Autistic child feel safe. As green is the color related to nature, it symbolizes health and growth. Green color is used to retain emotional balance and helps the child to feel calm, safe and comfortable.

Happy Orange

Orange which is a combination of red and yellow is a stimulating color. Orange represents food, fun and family. Color therapy states that orange can be used to stimulate appetite, mental activity and cheerful emotions. Hence orange can be a comfort color to those who have food sensitivities. Many of us experience a soothing and calming effect when we see the colors like yellow and orange.

Raging Red

Though orange and red belong to the same family, Red relates to aggressiveness, tension, intensity and being passionate. It can relate to both good and bad. Red is a color that indicates higher energy levels and hence it might increase blood pressure and pulse rate in a child who is already hyperactive. Such activeness can also increase the appetite in children.

Lovely Pink

In the same way, though Pink belongs to Red family, it has an opposite effect on us. Though pink represents femininity and fertility in general, Pink produces a mild emotional response. Soft light pink may also help them in concentrating. Many of the Autistic children claim Pink as their favorite color.

Occupational therapy for Autistic children
Colors help autistic children in therapy

Colors on Walls

It is usually important for us to have our place neat and tidy with proper sun light, to experience a peaceful stay. Along with them, we also take care of the colors that are used in decorating our walls, like preferring light colors in the hall and a bit dark ones in the bedroom. Even while taking pictures, we take care of the colors around that please us by adding beauty. According to psychology, each color has its own representation of mindset.

In children with ADHD, retinas of their eyes have functional and anatomical deficiencies that make them experience difficulties with yellow, blue and green wavelengths. White-washed walls may appear hard and cold, leading to increase in higher levels of anxiety in them. Autistic children have heightened senses and the way they see or perceive color are as well heightened due to sensory differences. Color causes a bio-chemical reaction in the brain. Children with hyperactivity disorder and learning deficiency have chemical imbalances in their brains. Hence it is important to understand the colors that will lead to the desired reaction when they are concerned. A therapist can assist the parents of an Autistic child in understanding the importance of colors in their life. All children are different and their responses to the colors may vary. Hence, finding the right match for your kid may need a kind of trial and error method. We, at Wellness Hub are here to help you with the right assessment and treatment plan for your Autistic kids. Book an appointment with our team of experts on Autism, for the right analysis and assessment.

Leave a Reply