Greetings Earthlings! 🙂
This week, I’d like to delve into an somewhat unusual subject- how weather impacts people with autism.
I know what you’re thinking, she’s run out of things to say so she’s falling back on Ireland’s favourite topic of conversation 😛
Joking aside, while this might seem like a silly topic, weather can have a surprisingly significant effect on autists both psychologically and physiologically. Coping with the sensory impact of extreme weather conditions, the lack of predictability and issues with change, and routine disruptions surrounding seasonal weather transitions can all be overwhelming. Something so simple as an unexpected shower or a really hot day could potentially trigger a meltdown (have certainly come to the brink myself when I’ve been overheated on occasion- although granted this was often coupled with hunger or exhaustion 😛 ).
Thankfully, a life spent living in the highly unpredictable Irish climate where one often experiences all four seasons in a single day has made me immune to most fluctuations, but for many others the weather poses daily challenges.
Sensory issues aside, many studies have noted some behavioural changes in autists under certain weather conditions. Research has found that autists are particularly susceptible to drops in atmospheric/barometric pressure i.e. the weight of air pressing down on us from the earth’s atmosphere. When pressure is high, we have dry, sunny weather; when pressure is low, rain and dark clouds. This drop in pressure results in a drop in blood oxygen levels. Consequently, the body adjusts heart rate and blood pressure to adapt to these changes which can interfere with brain activity. This often leads to mood swings, increased impulsivity and autists are more likely to indulge in destructive behaviours (especially for those with ADHD).
In addition to this, if you’re anything like me, drops in barometric pressure may also make you very sleepy and sluggish due to the fluctuations in brain oxygen levels (nice to know why taking naps has become somewhat of a pastime in recent weeks staring up at a perpetually wet and grey sky 😛 ).
There’s no clear reason why low pressure impacts autists more than neurotypicals, but given that our brains are wired differently, pressure related fluctuations in brain activity are bound to have more of an impact. Moreover, given the impact of deep pressure stimulation and it’s calming effect on the autistic nervous system, perhaps this could explain why our brains go a little bit crazy in response to drops in atmospheric pressure.
Hope you enjoyed this post dear Earthlings! 🙂
Have a lovely weekend!
Do you have citations for that? I’m not disagreeing, just the opposite- my dad and I are both ADHD and we get massive headaches when the weather changes quickly and I’d like to have some data or something to show him. Thanks if yes or no!
Hi Bella- I’m afraid I don’t as I wrote that piece a while ago and can’t remember my sources (I like to keep things light on the blog so I don’t list them out so it doesn’t feel like a research paper) but I do a lot of searches for research papers through pubmed so have a look there 🙂
Please keep looking! I feel like I’ve experienced this and want to know if this is a thing.
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I’m late to this, but migraines are common enough during air pressure changes for there to be a list article about it. I hope I can link it here without any issues: https://www.migraineagain.com/feel-4-ways-barometric-pressure-affects-health/
Our household gets headaches, too, when the weather changes. This winter in the western US has been a real challenge.
searching various word combos of “atmospheric pressure” “barometric” “autism” etc so far finds 0 to 4 results in pub med, none seem relevant to this.
I’m autistic and my older sister has ADHD. I react badly when a cloudy day is present and even worse if it’s a storm with thunder and lightning. My sister has weaker reactions than what I get.
I do get tired and sleepy when it’s somewhat cloudy. Just wanted to see if there are any others that get really bad migraines till the storm passes.
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