On a cold February morning, the snow was coming down, the road barely had any grit on and the harsh cold winds were whistling all around the area, it was a day that many would rather have around late December, not just before Spring begins! My bus was late and as I stood at the bus stop in the centre of town, I began to worry that I was going to be late for my class that morning, yet at the same time…the feeling of  relief rushed over me because at least I wouldn’t have to board the creeky, old and boiling hot bus yet again but as I think this, an orange rectangle appears down the hill and my heart slightly sinks…I’ll have to go in to college after all, on the hot bus…alone. 

I was at work the other day and began serving a customer, she was friendly and we chatted about the bad weather outside (snow) and she was annoyed that the college her son was attending had decided to close for the rest of the day after saying they would be open, so she had to come all the way from where she lived to pick him up! If your wondering, if he’s a college student, why can’t he get home himself? Well, he has Autism and according to his mother, he doesn’t like using Public transport!

What was interesting about this is was that I could somewhat relate to this! Remembering back to the days that I went to college, I had to travel from my hometown to the college, via a bus and that to begin with at least, I would feel very uncomfortable using a bus, something that drove me crazy yet today, I can’t understand why that was today though because I can easily get on a bus, train or a plane and feel fine, so why at one point in my life was getting on public transport such an issue for me and perhaps others with Autism as well? Is this something that others with Autism possibly don’t enjoy using as well?

The mother was concerned about her son because he is known for panicking in situations like this so I felt sympathy for her because she was told that college would stay open and she had work, having to leave early to pick her son up instead! The snow is coming down bad over here, for a country that just isn’t used to this much snow…I think I was 1 yrs old the last time I saw snow this high so it’s been about 25 yrs! We aren’t used to this much snow in Britain…feel jealous of Canada and Scandinavia right now! Even New York gets more every year! It’s normally too wet for the snow to stick over here so on the rare occasion it actually sticks…maybe one or two days every couple of years, we get a snow day and everything comes to a halt…but on a day like this, it’s madness over here!

Back to Public Transport! Well for me at least, it could have something to do with having to travel alone, now I say that because I have used public transport many times in the past and not had an issue with it but a lot of those times, I was with someone! Family for example so maybe, all those times I had to travel to college when I was by myself made me nervous and feel uncomfortable…it was all down to me to make sure that I got to the correct destination and such so I felt more pressure to get it right…for a while, that must of terrified me that if something were to happen to me, I would have to get myself out of the situation. You surround yourself with strangers on public transport, people you don’t know and even the bus driver can be a stranger, to begin with, and I always struggle with people that I don’t know…I can shut down sometimes and not say a word. For the bus and train, it can’t be said that I haven’t used them by myself but as for planes, a friend or family member has always been with me, so it can’t be said that whether I would be fine or not.

For a while, I honestly thought that I was the only one who couldn’t stand using public transport as a kid! An issue that for some reason, was forgotten about by myself until my Mother mentioned it in a conversation a year or so ago…she would explain that I would always act differently when using Public Transport, I would feel uncomfortable, on the edge and come up with reasons to not even use it in the first place…like I was having a panic attack every now and then because of it! That brought back floods of memories…ones where I would have a meltdown and feel on the edge about travelling alone from place to place, I just didn’t like it and it took a long time for me to get used to it. However, a bus driver on my regular bus route took pity on me and began chatting with me on some days, asking how I was and such and I didn’t know why but that made me feel a little bit easier and over quite a bit of time, my nerves subsided and I relaxed more, to the point that I even forgot that using Public Transport was even an issue in the first place.

Apparently, though, my nerves were even worse when I was around 5 yrs old. From screaming and crying when my bus drove away from my house as I went to my special needs school to having people around me assuming that someone had kidnapped me (I yelled that much) when anyone other than my parents held me, I was a wreck of nerves apparently but yet whenever we would turn the corner from my street on the minibus, I would always calm down and become happy! To this day, it is unclear as to why that was a thing for me to do, or even quickly get over. Other children were on the bus with me so I wasn’t alone so maybe that helped me relax a little, who knows but it’s the only reason that I can come up with. As for my constant yelling when anyone other than my parents holding me, I honestly don’t know the reason for that, it was far too many years ago for me to remember anymore but it was really bad according to my family, possibly an early sign of Autism, I don’t know but it did take longer for me to walk and talk so maybe it took longer for me to trust others apart from my family.

Nowadays, I’m fine using a bus or a train, in fact, I love trains now but a long time ago, things like that intimidated me, scared me and caused my confidence to drop because I couldn’t understand why taking a simple bus was so hard for me to do, especially when it seemed I was the only one having a problem with doing it, I felt embarrased for years for it and was relieved when I overcame it, like getting past a huge blemish in my life but to hear that woman in the supermarket the other day saying her son also hated using the bus made me feel slightly more normal than usual, maybe I wasn’t the only one after all!

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