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Traveling with Autism

Travelling on public transport is stressful for the majority of people especially with the current state of the system. However, it’s inherently even more stressful for those who are autistic. I am currently sat on a train on the way down to London for a Young Ambassadors meeting with the National Autistic Society. It’s overcrowded, noisy and we have already been delayed at our change over. As you can imagine this is not a great combination. We are sat on a six-seater with four random people who we don’t even know. That autistic paranoia kicks in and I feel judged by them all. We are all so close together and nobody looks happy. The uncertainty of public travel is a nightmare. It’s a massive sensory overload and just so inaccessible for many neurodiverse people. For a long time, I would never travel on trains or buses. The idea would just immediately cause a shutdown. But recently I travelled by myself to London, I have come on leaps and bounds and I truly believe it’s because I now understand my autism. I am no longer bothered about hiding it. Acceptance that I’m different, that I can’t access these things in a neurotypical way and that’s okay. I know before I even go it’s going to be an uncomfortable experience. Being able to acknowledge this allows me to not be disappointed or cross with myself when those feeling arise. Being cross only adds to the discomfort and pain of the experience. My absolute essentials are headphones and ear defenders. I would never be seen out wearing my ear defenders in the past however they really are a game changer. I put my earphones underneath and blast my favourite tunes with my ear defenders over the top. Of course, I have to have my mum there to be my ears!! However, it’s changed the experience completely. My underlying anxiety levels are so much lower. Of course, I’m still worried and get overwhelmed but have so many less melt/shutdowns. It means I can spend so much less energy and be able to actually enjoy the day or where I am going. So often before I have filled up my bucket before I even get there with the emotions of travelling that I cannot even enjoy the activity I’ve gone for. It isn’t perfect, nothing is, but it does make it slightly more bearable. I still however feel more needs to be done. I’m not entirely sure how public transport can be made more accessible for those of us who are neurodiverse but there must be a way. But in the meantime, finding your own strategies to cope if you are required to travel is essential. The more I travel hopefully I will have more advice when it comes to the dreaded public transport!!


Lots of Love

Hannah :) x



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