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Initial Evidence for Increased Weather Salience in Autism Spectrum Conditions

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  • 1 College of Arts and Sciences, Saint Leo University, Saint Leo, Florida
  • 2 School of Meteorology, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma
  • 3 College of Arts and Sciences, Saint Leo University, Saint Leo, Florida
  • 4 How The Weatherworks, Naples, Florida
  • 5 National Weather Service Weather Forecast Office, Gray, Maine
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Abstract

Weather is important to all people, including vulnerable populations (those whose circumstances include cognitive processing, hearing, or vision differences; physical disability; homelessness; and other scenarios and factors). Autism spectrum conditions affect information processing and areas of neurological functioning that potentially inhibit the reception of hazardous weather information and are of particular concern for weather messengers. People on the autism spectrum tend to score highly in tests of systemizing, a psychological process that heavily entails attention to detail and revolves around the creation of logical rules to explain things that occur in the world. This article reports the results of three preliminary studies examining weather salience—psychological attention to weather—and its potential relationships with systemizing in autistic people. Initial findings suggest that enhanced weather salience exists among autistic individuals relative to those without the condition and that this may be related to systemizing. These findings reveal some possible strategies for communicating weather to autistic populations and motivate future work on a conceptual model that blends systemizing and chaos theory to better understand weather salience.

© 2020 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: Matthew Bolton, matthew.bolton@email.saintleo.edu

Abstract

Weather is important to all people, including vulnerable populations (those whose circumstances include cognitive processing, hearing, or vision differences; physical disability; homelessness; and other scenarios and factors). Autism spectrum conditions affect information processing and areas of neurological functioning that potentially inhibit the reception of hazardous weather information and are of particular concern for weather messengers. People on the autism spectrum tend to score highly in tests of systemizing, a psychological process that heavily entails attention to detail and revolves around the creation of logical rules to explain things that occur in the world. This article reports the results of three preliminary studies examining weather salience—psychological attention to weather—and its potential relationships with systemizing in autistic people. Initial findings suggest that enhanced weather salience exists among autistic individuals relative to those without the condition and that this may be related to systemizing. These findings reveal some possible strategies for communicating weather to autistic populations and motivate future work on a conceptual model that blends systemizing and chaos theory to better understand weather salience.

© 2020 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: Matthew Bolton, matthew.bolton@email.saintleo.edu
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