Thursday, October 28, 2010

Does Low Barometric Pressure Affect Kids with Autism?

I had the radio on the other day while driving back from my son’s swim lesson and all the talk was about the record low barometric pressure we were having in our area that day. Many folks were calling in and telling stories about how the low pressure system was affecting people’s behaviors.

As you may recall, my son had his worst day of the year at school that day. I had attributed his poor day solely to his anxiety about the swim lesson he would have after school. However, after doing research on the subject, I am wondering if the barometric pressure also had some effect.

Apparently this link between the weather and behavior has been known for some time. The BBC reported that “researchers in the Ukraine have found that slight low-frequency atmospheric oscillations can influence human mental activity, causing significant changes in attention and short term memory functions.”

An article in yesterday’s said that “low barometric pressure is associated with an increase in impulsive behaviours” and that children on the autism spectrum seem to be the most affected. The article goes on to give tips on handling the situation, including using sensory integration techniques.

I’m still not sure how much of Kai’s poor behavior at school the other day was because of the weather, but it’s something to be aware of. I’m curious to hear if teachers or other parents notice a difference in their kids’ behaviors. As for me, I’ll be paying a little bit closer attention to the weather reports to see if I can detect a pattern with Kai.

Update on 11/10/2010:  I collected barometric pressure readings for the past seven weeks and compared my son’s school performance on high versus low pressure days.  See the results here.


  1. I really REALLY think it impacts the kids. The 73 year old boss of my special needs summer camp told me about it after I told him all of my campers (and most of the rest of the camp) were crazy on a specific day. I really think it makes a difference. All of their roughest days coincided with pressure changes. I'd love more information on it!

  2. Very interesting, Molly! I want to see more information on it, too. If I can find a source for getting weather information in the past, I want to see if I can detect a pattern with my son's bad days at school.


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