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Can Weather Affect Autism Symptoms?

*This was an older post that has recently been catching some attention so we though we would republish it with some updated information.*

Update – 2017:

My son is almost 9 now and weather still seems to affect his emotions/actions/behaviors. In the winter when a storm front is coming in, he is very calm at home, but at school is a bit more “on edge” than usual. He loves snow and gets very excited when he says he can “feel” the snow coming. 

In the spring and summer, however, when a quickly developing storm is on it’s way, Brady (whose nickname as a baby/toddler was Chewy as you will read below) gets very nervous. He constantly worries when there are dark clouds. He is extremely fearful of thunder and lightning and especially wind. He will act very nervous before and during a storm and when it’s over, usually sleeps extremely well. It’s exhausting to be that worked up for a long period of time I assume. 


Original post – 2011:

I really wanted to name this post “Chewy and the Spinning Wheels of Doom.” Sounds like a great movie right?! Nope, just my son and his love to spin everything! Chewy (no I didn’t really name him after a wookie) is my 3 yr old with Autism. We’ve had a few stormy days here in Colorado, so his sensory issues have had a bit of a flare up. Spinning spinning spinning, seems to be all he does the past few days. He’ll get a car, flip it over and spin the wheels until they practically fall off.

I had always wondered why on stormy or snowy days, that he seemed a bit more aggravated and disconnected. I’ve recently learned that changes in barometric pressure can affect kids with sensory issues, which most kids with Autism also have. There are many websites and articles that both suggest and debunk this myth. I can’t speak to you from a medical standpoint, or even from a research or journalistic one, but I can speak to you as a mom.

My son spins wheels and gets antsy on any given day, but when there is a strong weather front coming in, not just a summer rain, he get’s very temperamental, aggravated and spins things over and over. He is so affected by the weather that we sometimes don’t get very much “therapy time” in on one of those days. Living in Colorado though, is great as we have over 300 days of sunshine a year! That certainly helps as he loves to be outdoors and is often calmer after getting a chance to soak in the sun.

Studies show barometric pressure can affect a host of things, from arthritis to migraines, mood swings to blood pressure. It only seems fitting that kids with sensory issues would be affected as well. So now, how do we combat this? Personally, my son seems to do better after some good joint compressions, maybe a weighted blanket/lap pad or just his daily “squeezes” (or nice big bear hugs as they are known to the other kids). Also, letting him have a safe place to play actively indoors if the weather is too bad outside is a good idea. We have a swing from IKEA that we bought ages ago and some friends have mini trampolines that their ASD kids enjoy. Anything to stay active!

Is your SPD or ASD affected by the weather? Share your thoughts below!