TRAIN TRAVEL WITH AUTISTIC N!CK
Travel is the movement of people between distant geographical locations.
Travel can be done by foot, bicycle, car, train, boat, bus, airplane, ship or other means, with or without luggage, and can be one way or round trip.
Travel can also include relatively short stays between successive movements.
When you add it all up, a ‘journey’ isn’t actually a single action: it’s a complex set of manoeuvres which involve dealing with people, information and changes – all of which can be a lot to manage when you have Autism.
Over the past year I have had to make several train journeys into the city for various appointments.
Most notably for meetings with the ABC and my volunteering job. You can read more about that meeting here
and when I attended a Diversity Film Making workshop here
And my work at Developmental Disability WA (DDWA) here
But before I can even drive myself to the train station, pay $2 for parking and buy a day rider concession ticket I have a lot of things to take into consideration.
I have written about the different sensory issues here (https://autisticnick.com/2019/02/25/autism-and-sensory-differences/)
But they are on high alert as I enter the train station.
Not only am I being overwhelmed by certain sounds, sights or smells – but I am also battling the fact that train stations and in particular trains themselves will inevitably involve a whole host of noisy, bustling, highly stimulating sounds and sights and smells.
Coupled with the fact that I am also dealing with tannoy announcements, buzzers and bells, the creak and rattle of an engine, the judder and vibration of an old vehicle, the slamming and sliding of doors, the smell of fuel and exhaust, the glow of schedule boards takes it toll.
So how do I prepare for a train journey?
PLANNING AND ORGANISATION
This is the key thing that works for me.
I also do what they call a ‘dry run’.
A ‘Dry Run’ is where you go to the building or destination ahead of time.
When I was meeting Andrew at the ABC here in Perth, I was driven to where they are situated with my mum, so that I could get my bearings and see how far they were from the train station.
So, when I know that I am heading into the city by train I’ll firstly log onto the Transperth website where I can plan my journey from my home into the city.
I’ll check the email to see what time my appointment is and then check to see which train will get me to my destination with plenty of time to spare.
When I had my meetings with Andrew at the ABC here in Perth our first meeting was at scheduled for 10 AM.
After checking the Transperth website I saw that I needed to catch the 9.04 AM train to which arrived into Perth Underground Station by 9.35 AM.
I then had a short walk to platform 5 where my connecting train left at 9.45 AM.
I would then arrive at 9.48 AM outside Claisebrook Train Station.
Being early meant that I had time to ask for directions if I got lost or needed to locate a toilet as I needed a nervous wee!
To make sure that I know roughly what times the trains run back from Claisebrook Train Station I’ll print out a return journey and take it with me in my backpack.
The backpack one of man’s greatest inventions.
You can fit a lot into a back pack and it’s one key item that I take with me when I am travelling into the city.
My key items that I pack into my backpack are my word search book, my noise cancelling headphones, a snack, and my water bottle.
I’ll also make sure that my mobile phone is fully charged the night before.
THE MORNING OF….
I am not sure how, but I don’t set an alarm clock to wake myself up.
My body can naturally wake up at the time that it needs to!
I’ve always has this ability.
Anyway, this is how my day when I go to volunteer at Developmental Disability WA (DDWA)
7.30 AM I wake up
7.35 AM I put the kettle on to make myself a mug of tea and prepare my breakfast
7.45 AM I eat my breakfast and then head into the bathroom to shower and if necessary shave
8.15 AM I get dressed and then go and make sure that I have any travelling items that I need to make my journey stress free.
8.20 AM I make my sandwich and pack my water bottle. I’ll then check to make sure that I have the $2 for the parking.
8.45 AM I leave my house, drive to the train station. I’ll check first that there are car parking spaces and then pay the $2 and park my car. I’ll then walk towards the platform buy my day rider ticket and then board the train at 9.04 AM.
If you use the Currambine Train station car park and you can’t get a park near to where the machine is then what I do is drive up to where the machine is located, pay for my ticket and then I drive to where there are car park spaces. The reason for this madness is that they only have one ticket machine per 2 car parks. Which makes no sense to me!
Travelling by train is a very stressful experience for me, but by planning in advance what I need to do and knowing where I need to go helps. It also helps that I have some sensory aids that can help make it a little bit less stressful.
For more information about planning your train journey click on your states train website below.
Carry on the Conversation
How do you handle travelling on public transport?
What tips do you use?
Let me know in the comments section below
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Thank you for reading and I will see you next time for more thoughts from across the spectrum.