It’s pretty much a cliche. Autistic people and trains. Children on the autism spectrum staring longingly as a train rolls by. Adults with Asperger’s happily taking train rides across the country.
I would think it’s a stereotype, except I know ALL sorts of people on the spectrum who absolutely adore trains.
And I admit it. I am obsessed with trains.
What is it about trains?
Some researchers feel it’s those countless rolly wheels. Apparently a trait of people on the spectrum is they love wheels. It’s part of why the fidget spinners are so popular. Wheels spinning around. It’s mesmerizing and soothing. I imagine back in the days before trains existed, the autism community joyfully watched wagons and chariots roll on by.
Another aspect is that nice ordered chug-chug-chug sound. It’s incredibly soothing. The rocking and rolling the train makes. It rocks you to sleep.
I used to take the train into work every day, an hour each way. I loved it. It was like being in a giant hammock.
Trains are also very ordered. They have schedules. They go on set tracks. Just looking at a track layout can be comforting. You know where things go and when. Many people on the spectrum love maps.
When we took a trip to Ukraine, I made sure we had an overnight train ride from Lviv to Kiev. It was incredibly fun.
And then there’s the sorting aspect of trains. They have engines of different types. Cars of different types.
When I grew up I had a model HO train set and loved it. I adored having the different types of cars to attach to it and ordering them in a line. Then it would chug its way around the track.
Do you love trains? What is it about them that you like?
Image of steam locomotive engine sourced from Pixabay / ArtTower