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An Autistic Guide to Navigating Transport Issues

Crowded_Red_Line_platforms_at_Park_Street,_February_2014

There was due to be a city-wide strike on the London Underground system today. Luckily, it was called off at the last minute due to some eleventh hour breakthroughs in the discussion between unions and bosses.

I say lucky for several reasons. The main reason being, of course, that hopefully some headway has been made in solving the initial complaints of the staff. As someone who travels on the Underground every day, I have seen the kind of abuse that these people face, and the worsening understaffing that is making it even more dangerous and difficult to do the job they are probablly not paid a huge amount to do anyway. No matter how difficult a strike such as this makes my life, they are the backbone of the fight for workers rights and I salute and support every dammed one of them.

But this brings us to another reason why the reaching of some kind of agreement is lucky. Because London transport strikes are hard enough on your average City worker, let alone an autistic person.

My first experience of such a strike was a little over a year ago, and although I had done some planning beforehand, nothing  prepared me for what it was actually like. Nothing prepared me from being caught in a sea of people spreading fifteen-twenty deep clamouring to get through the tiny bus doors. Nothing prepared me for people shouting and swearing and hammering their fists on the doors of buses desperately trying to get away. I wasn’t prepared for the wails of fear that escaped my chest when I couldn’t move my arms well enough to call my mum, nor the gushing panic of my hyperventilation as it became too loud, too close, and as people looked at my jerking sobs with amusement/judgement/derision and yet did nothing to help me out of the crush, instead pressing closer, their proximity like needles in my skin, and an elbow in my side to make sure they got that last place on the bus instead of me.

It was a crushing, overpopulated corner of hell, and, when I finally got home that evening and began to piece my broken thoughts together, I promised myself I would never go into the situation again unarmed.

Knowing that the strike was imminent, this time I sat down and set a series of steps in place. I’d like to share them with you here, along with some explanations, in the hope that they will be useful to someone in a similar situation (whether it be a strike or some other transport related delay) one day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As I’ve said, these are my own personal strategies that I have put in place in response to a situation like this. The wonderful, yet challenging, thing about autism and autism advice is that there is no one-size fits all solution to any of the issues we face. However, if just one thing on this list is able to help anyone in even the tiniest of ways, it will have been absolutely worth it.

Please do let me know if this is helpful, as I am very keen to do more of these types of post in the future.

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