• Understanding Autism from the Inside

    “Academics came easily to me. The rest of life—not so much.”
  • This post may contain affiliate links and we may earn compensation when you click on the links at no additional cost to you.

Sunshine and the Aspie: When the Weather Affects Our Neurology

Ohh…the happiness of Summer (As long as it is not too hot!)

When I woke up this morning I still felt exhausted because I had not fallen asleep until after 2 a.m. last night. I have been having tremendous difficulty falling asleep lately (again): enter the famous Aspie insomnia.

This morning, however, unlike the rest of the mornings this week I did not wake up to grey skies or the pitter patter of rain drops, the sunshine was shining. In fact it was streaming through the curtains in my room, and although I was exhausted, I looked forward to getting out of bed to see the daylight-the sunshine.

I am aware that grey dreary days make many people feel “gloomy” or “sleepy,” but for me the problem goes far beyond feeling glum. For me, my entire body is affected, my mood, my energy, even my outlook on life itself is affected. I guess you could say that my moods quite literally changes with the weather.

Seasonal Affective Disorder, more commonly known as Winter Depression, is among the host of diagnoses I have received over the years. It is true that wintertime has always brought on depression for me, and the summer sunshine brought happier days. The problem is that even Seasonal Affective Disorder did not explain the drastic change in how I felt from day to day and sometimes even from hour to hour.

I had not considered, until I read something in a book by William Stillman called Autism and the God Connection, that this could be connected to my autism. Stillman stated that some people with autism are so sensitive that they can sense even the smallest ionic changes in the weather, and it wreaks havoc on their neurology.

That’s when it clicked! With a bit of help from psychologists like those at Psychreg for the best psychologist in Sydney and the realization that I had not read the entire book, but it is on my to-do list mainly because this particular statement has resounded so strongly with me, I finally figured something out. I can feel the slightest change in weather pressures, humidity, and temperature, but again, never realized that all other people do not feel the same things.

I am literally uplifted and energized when the sun is shining and drained when the sky turns grey-even if little times had passed between the two. The slightest change in humidity affects my breathing, and temperatures changes have always wreaked havoc. While having appliances like air conditioning installed by experts like Morris Jenkins, for example, can help a home feel more comfortable, they can’t control the weather.

My issue with temperature is a part of my sensory processing disorder, or deregulation is this case. With my sensory processing issues, comes a temperature regulation issue. I cannot adjust to the changes in weather. I am easily overheated when it gets warm, cannot stay outside during very humid times, and even need to rest, relax, and cool down after a warm bath or shower. It takes my body a very short period of time to overheat, and an extended period to cool down. It’s why it’s so important that any AC Repair that’s needed in the home is taken care of long before the heat of summer arrives, as that constant temperature flow is something that I do not take for granted.

The same is true for cold weather-I cannot adjust well. Despite how warmly I dress, I will immediately be frozen down to the bones, and have a difficult time warming up. Sometimes after long periods out in the cold it will take hours of shivering indoors to “warm my bones.” Feeling cold down inside my bones is the best way I can describe the feeling, but again, I just always assumed that everyone felt this way-apparently, they do not.

Part of my temperature regulation problem is that when I finally “cool-down,” it is usually followed by a quick shivering chill and a feeling that I need to warm up. And when I try to “warm up my bones”, it is usually followed by a period of overheating-very annoying. I live in a state of discomfort, many times putting on a sweater or blanket one minute, and throwing it off in a sweat the next.

I had never considered that these sensitivities could have been in any way related to autism-now, I know that they are. I am super sensitive to all kinds of stimuli-including ionic weather changes. Maybe I need to move to Hawaii…

Jeannie Davide-Rivera

Jeannie is an award-winning author, the Answers.com Autism Category Expert, contributes to Autism Parenting Magazine, and the Thinking Person's Guide to Autism. She lives in New York with her husband and four sons, on the autism spectrum.