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Autism and Train Travel – an article by our Ambassador Paul Isaacs

This is an article about autism and travel, on the context of a train station the potential pieces of a person’s autism and specific information processing challenges.

Face blindness
When on a train, waiting for a person at a station and/ or destination one may struggle with the ability to recognise someone by their face this is called prosopagnosia. Some people may need to different compensatory strategies to make the connection that they are a person that they know.

  • A board that has their name and the person’s name.
  • A familiar piece of clothing such as shoes, earrings, glasses etc.
  • The sound of the person’s voice.
  • The way in which the person moves such as gait, walk and stride.
  • Tactile and alternate sensory modulation to create association, such sniffing, tapping, rubbing etc.

Visual Perceptual Disorders
If a person has related visual perceptual challenges within a train station this can cause distraction but the way in which that connects with association is vast because of different experiences, variations and the personal emotions that got with.

  • Becoming increasingly “meaning blind” may mean the person goes into the system of “sensing” within their surroundings.
  • May experience intense euphoria and induced chemical highs due to asomatognosia and/or semantic agnosia’s. (Fragmented vision).
  • May experience intense aversion and induced chemical highs due to asomatognosia and/or semantic agnosia (fragmented vision).
  • May need contextual means to be able to ground themselves this could be self-regulated or from another person.

Topographical Agnosia
When a person is in the same surroundings but cannot process or perceive where they are (even though they have been to this place many times) this could be to do with many factors – coming on a different train that is resided in a different place at the station for example or moving to the same location from a different angle.

  • Needing to find a place of association that is a landmark.
  • Needing to be able to mentalise the new surroundings (through different modulations and associations).
  • Needing to be able to go to a place of safety.

Language Processing
This is a broad definition in which a person’s information processing ability to express and/or receive language may be for example be distorted the person loses words within a conversation. In a train station with external stimuli this could compound the ability to receive language further.

  • The person may need the aid of gesture and tone to get meaning.
  • The person may need the aid of objects of reference.
  • The person may need the aid picture/word association (if they do not have visual perceptual disorders).
  • The person may have delays in connections and a shared sense of “social” this means the person may only be able to do all self no other or all other no self.

Personality Types, Temperament & Resilience
It is worth noting that within the context of this article that other factors that come into is a person’s personality type which has its own values, systems, associations, temperament and varying degrees of resilience and association. This means that if a person is idiosyncratic for example may have more novel ways of dealing with stress induced situations say than a more conscientious person who may be more linear.

Conclusion 
In the context of autism this does count for a person is more than their information processing and one’s personhood rides with the latter and vice versa. People given the balanced nature of caregivers and other means of support can and do have the ability to change and adapt be healthily acknowledging their “autism fruit salads” but also their personhood to, for people are more than labels and so humanity starts with seeing people and everything that comes along with it.

Paul Isaacs 2021  

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NewsAutism and Train Travel – an article by our Ambassador Paul Isaacs