In recent years, there has been growing interest in the connection between autism and a fascination with trains. While not every autistic person shares this passion, many do – and their enthusiasm for trains is often deeply rooted.
Predictable patterns and repetition
Autism is a complex neurological condition that affects how a person communicates, socialises, and processes information. Many autistic people crave predictability and routine, as it helps them navigate their often unpredictable and overwhelming world. Trains, with their fixed schedules, regular routes, and repetitive motions, provide a sense of order and consistency that can be calming and reassuring.
Attention to detail
Autistic individuals often possess an extraordinary ability to focus on minute details, a trait that can be both a strength and a challenge. Trains, with their intricate networks of tracks, switches, and signals, offer an opportunity to engage this attention to detail in a positive and productive way. Moreover, the extensive history of trains and their various models present a wealth of information for an autistic person to learn and absorb, satisfying their hunger for knowledge.
A safe and comfortable environment
Public transport can be overwhelming for some autistic people, due to the crowds, noise, and unpredictability. Trains, however, often provide a more controlled environment, with designated seats and clear rules of conduct. This can create a sense of security for autistic passengers, allowing them to enjoy the journey without becoming overwhelmed by sensory input.
A shared interest for social connection
The autistic community has embraced trains as a shared interest, providing a platform for social connection and camaraderie. Online forums, social media groups, and in-person gatherings centred around trains offer autistic individuals a space to bond with like-minded individuals. This shared passion can foster friendships and help develop social skills in a comfortable and supportive setting.
A gateway to the wider world
For many autistic people, trains represent a means to explore the world beyond their immediate surroundings. The excitement of discovering new places and experiencing different cultures can be exhilarating, and trains provide an accessible and enjoyable mode of transportation. By offering a reliable, consistent, and relatively stress-free way to travel, trains empower autistic individuals to step out of their comfort zone and engage with the world at large.
Aesthetic and sensory appeal
The sensory experience of trains can also be highly appealing to autistic individuals. The rhythmic sound of wheels on tracks, the steady hum of engines, and the gentle sway of carriages can create a soothing and immersive environment. Additionally, the visual design of trains, from their sleek lines to their vibrant colours, can be aesthetically pleasing and engaging.
A platform for creative expression
Trains provide an outlet for creative expression, with countless opportunities for autistic individuals to explore their artistic talents. From photography and painting to writing and model-making, the world of trains offers a rich canvas for self-expression. This creative engagement can provide a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction, contributing to an autistic person’s overall well-being.
The affinity between autism and trains is a multifaceted and deeply rooted phenomenon. From the comfort of predictability and order to the opportunities for social connection and creative expression, trains offer a unique and captivating world for autistic individuals to explore and enjoy.
As society becomes increasingly aware of the diverse needs and interests of autistic people, the connection between autism and trains provides a valuable insight into the ways in which autistic individuals engage with the world around them. By fostering a greater understanding of this relationship, we can work towards creating more inclusive and supportive environments for autistic people, both on and off the tracks.
It’s important to remember that autism is a spectrum, and not every autistic person will share the same interests or experiences. But by examining the reasons behind the connection between autism and trains, we can gain a better understanding of the diverse ways in which autistic individuals process and interact with the world around them.
Adam Mulligan, a psychology graduate from the University of Hertfordshire, has a keen interest in the fields of mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.