Something Of An Autistic Weather Report

Amanda Hoover and Samantha Spengler for Wired describe ChatGPT as a lifeline for autistics and outside of wanting to wave my hands back in forth in the warning gesture that always makes me think of the Giant on-stage at the Roadhouse in Twin Peaks, I’m baffled by this bit.

Maxfield Sparrow, who is autistic and facilitates support groups for autistic and transgender people, has found ChatGPT helpful for developing new material. Many autistic people struggle with conventional icebreakers in group sessions, as the social games are designed largely for neurotypical people, Sparrow says. So they prompted the chatbot to come up with examples that work better for autistic people. After some back and forth, the chatbot spat out: “If you were weather, what kind of weather would you be?”

Sparrow says that’s the perfect opener for the group—succinct and related to the natural world, which Sparrow says a neurodivergent group can connect with.

I don’t know for which autistic people this icebreaker works better, let alone for whom it’s "perfect", but for sure it’s the sort of icebreaker that causes my anxiety response even just to read it in a news article.

It’s pretty common for autistics actually to hate open-ended questions like this—it’s one of the reasons many of us find things like modern job interviews so impossible—so I’m beyond baffled here. I’m outright perplexed, and more than a little mortified.