Air Temperature

A teen friend diagnosed with autism sent an e-mail with her thoughts about summer heat and sensitivities to air temperature. She shares some insights that some of our friends with autism might not be able to express.

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So, my high school friend wrote these words: “Here is a little anecdote about me and the weather. It was in the summer of 2004. I went to the amusement park with my aunt, uncle and little cousins. I didn’t have any electronics with me at that time so it was hard to bear the heat. My family describes the incident by saying that I wilted (lol). I did go with them last summer, but things were better because this time I did have my iPod.”

This perceptive high school student went on to say, “Summer is the time after school ends for lazy days. But for some of us the heat of the summer is annoying. Some people with autism, including me, probably enjoy the cool weather with temperatures around 50-65° even in the summertime. Do you know of other people with Autism who dislike above 75° heat?”

I talked to some of my friends with autism who are able to converse about such topics. Interestingly, down here in Texas, more folks expressed an aversion to cold, cloudy, windy days. We don’t have too many of those, but nearly everyone said they just wanted to stay in bed and not show their faces when one of those days shows up in the winter.

I guess these Texas natives are used to the heat since we always have hot summers. Everything – all buildings and cars – is well air-conditioned, so they rarely have to stay out and sweat in the heat….unless they are swimming, and most of my friends with autism LOVE to swim.

But, the most important point of this conversation is that air temperature is among the significant sensory issues that many individuals with autism must learn to deal with. We need not downplay this issue. I like our teen friend’s idea of having a distraction (like her iPod) to change her focus. That is so much better than hibernating like a bear in a room away from all people and all fun when the temperature rises.

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NOTE TO READERS AND LISTENERS: I am Cathy Knoll, a board certified music therapist and long-time friend of many folks with autism. At we are committed to providing free, practical, everyday tips for making life better for people with autism. Feel free to send me an email with your thoughts or challenging situations or innovative solution. Send email to And don’t forget to check out our website for a wealth of ideas and a glimpse into the world of autism.

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