Very few things seem to be universal in the autism world.
Symptoms, personalities and place on the spectrum vary so greatly, that fully understanding the disorder can be a challenge.
Over the past few days, I have found a couple different stories about autistic people and their love for trains. These stories intrigued me because my brother Brian also has a liking for trains as well. My dad and him go out to train museums several times a year and spend the entire day there. Brian has also received several train sets for Christmas and once I grew out of my Thomas the Tank Engine toys, he picked up right where I left off. I wish I had taken pictures of some of the trains he laid down because they were remarkable. A few took up an entire room.
Aside from Brian, it seems like Thomas the Tank Engine is a favorite among several other autistic individuals. One blogger believes it may be because of the limited facial expressions of the characters. Another reason is because the background is always still. There is little distraction, so if an autistic person is watching, they can focus more on the characters.
Trains may also appeal to autistic people because there is always order. A train will never start with the caboose and have the engine in the middle. I cannot speak for other autistic people, but this parallels the daily planner for my brother. When Brian wakes up, he almost immediately asks for his schedule. In this breakdown of the day, there is structure and order. It leaves little room for guessing.
Up in New York City, the New York Transit Museum has seen a significant rise in field trip requests for autistic classes as well as autistic customers. Seeing how popular trains have become, the museum founded an after-school program called “Subway Sleuths” for 9- and 10-year-olds. The program focuses on the history of New York City trains while working on the social skills. The program became so popular, it needed further expansion.