Public transport and people with autism

A busy station showing the escalator with lots of travellers.Getting out and about on public transport can be daunting, especially when travelling a route for the first time. With no control over the system it can give rise to worries about arriving at the right place and at the right time. This stress is just one of the worries people with autism experience when using public transport. Stress can impact on their ability to access employment, education and leisure activities. So what to do?

An in-depth study of young adults with autism found there were three main factors affecting participants. Dealing with uncertainty, a general level of anxiety, and the impact of sensory processing, such as crowds and noise. The research report is based on a qualitative study and the voices of the participants are included. People with and without autism will relate to many of their concerns about using public transport.

The researchers suggest a smart phone app that gives information to help reduce anxiety during trip planning and on the trip itself. Knowing about service disruptions and getting guidance at other times of uncertainty is important. However, no app can overcome worries about getting close to other passengers or the level of noise at train stations. But if can reduce anxiety.

As is often the case with solutions for people with specific conditions, this kind of app would be good for many other people. We all like to avoid travel stress if we can. 

The title of the report by the Australian Autism CRC is, The experiences of young autistic adults in using metropolitan public transport

A similar study was carried out in Los Angeles. The aim was to measure the accessibility of the bus system. The title of the article is, Understanding Public Transportation Accessibility for Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Six Feelings Approach.