Advancing Through Autism #3: Travel

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This post was originally written in 2016 for My Trending Stories.

When you are Autistic, travelling can be one of the more challenging aspects of life with the condition. I know for myself, I am a control freak and I freak out when things aren’t on time, or that they’re delayed. It’s the variables that stress me out when getting from A to B.

If I am travelling anywhere, I usually use a taxi, a car, a train, or I walk to my destination. I rarely use buses, as buses are too slow for me.

In my mind, and I assume in other people’s minds with the condition, we much prefer getting from A to B efficiently, and as quickly as possible. I particularly like trains, because they’re linear. When you are on a train, you’re not going down various roads you don’t recognise, but you are going from station A to station B, to C and so on.

I must stress though, for some Autistic people, travelling can be stressful. Especially if you have to worry about gathering luggage and getting somewhere on time. I have sensory distractions such as stress balls, gum, water, iPod. In short, I have to get ready to go out, and if I am not ready, then I will stress out. On top of that, getting to places on time while trying to arrive at the station in a manner that you only wait for 5 minutes further compounds things. I am that sort of person.

Getting on the train is easy. Waiting around isn’t. I guess the anticipation of waiting for the train to arrive gets my head worrying about delays and crazy stuff that realistically I should not be concerned about.

Once I am on the train, though, I usually calm down. My least favourite sort of passenger on the trains are children. Particularly young children. You do have well-behaved kids, especially if asleep or quiet, but most of the time they are loud and annoying. And I love children, but I guess being on a train in a seemingly stressful atmosphere. Even worse, I get two trains to go to Ormskirk. Twice the fun.

Usually for me, getting on one train and then changing over to the next one is less of an issue. But if I feel like it, I usually walk around Liverpool to see what’s going on in the city. Surprisingly, being alone in a city with your backpack containing your worldly possessions isn’t that bad for me.

I like the freedom and autonomy of walking around the city. Not to say that there aren’t weird people in the city. You occasionally see beggars, or people asking for money. For me, that is the worst case scenario. It is very hard to come up with a response to these people. Usually, my response is ‘I have no change, sorry, I am in a rush’. I feel a little bad for the beggars, but I do feel it is rude to directly approach people for money.

In conclusion, travel can be fun for people with Autism, but for some, it can get overcomplicated. If I were to give people some advice, try and make travelling simpler. I do overcomplicate it and need to stop. The simpler it is, the less hassle you have when you are making your way from A to B.

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Ben

Since 2012, Benjamin Attwood has written for the If you Ask Ben blog.

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