Often for people with autism getting out and about can be difficult, day-to-day activities such as shopping or using public transport can cause unnecessary anxiety and confusion. As young people become more independent it is important to provide them the opportunity to develop the skills necessary to keep themselves safe in the community.
Recently a group of young people from a Birtenshaw Children’s Home decided they would like to develop their understanding and awareness of public transport. Supported by their key workers the young men were able to take a bus journey across town experiencing everything from interacting with the bus driver, buying a ticket and enjoying a ride around Bolton. This was a positive experience and an amazing achievement for the young men as they have become more confident in travelling on public transport and looking forward to journeys further afield.
Top tips for travelling on public transport
Get your planning and timing as accurate as you can – be as prepared as you can so the young person has the comfort of predictability and you can give your full attention to supporting them. It is worthwhile checking travel websites before you leave the house to keep up-to-date with any delays or cancellations.
Look into buying a travel pass – this lets the young person touch in and out/show their pass without having to worry about money, which can save a lot of complications.
Headphones – for hearing sensitivities a pair of noise-cancelling headphones can prove a welcome distraction allowing the young person to listen to music, if not a simple pair of ear defenders can cut down noise to manageable levels, as well as giving a comforting sense of being protected.
Be aware of crowds – you probably can’t steer clear of busy times every day, but if you’re planning a weekend trip or scheduling an appointment, leaving an hour later or earlier to avoid the rush could be worthwhile (public transport seems to be busiest between 7am – 9am and 4pm – 7pm).
Use visual support – it could be beneficial to show pictures of the journey step-by-step, especially if it is complicated.
Praise – remember to provide lots of reassurance and praise as they successfully complete different stages of the journey.