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canuck600

Why are so many people that are on the Autism Spectrum, transportation hobbyist?

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As I poke around on here and on other boards I'm discovering a lot of people who are on the Autism spectrum seem to be transportation hobbyists? Whether it be Autism, Aspergers or Non Verbal Learning Disability, I have NLD. What is that makes so many of us interested In transportation?

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I'm pretty sure I am on the autism spectrum, although never officially diagnosed. I like transportation because it is a consistent, routine pattern, same reasons as mentioned by captaintrolley.

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I'm pretty sure I am on the autism spectrum, although never officially diagnosed. I like transportation because it is a consistent, routine pattern, same reasons as mentioned by captaintrolley.

I think a lot of us have something like that. I really like routes, maps and schedules. I like how everything is entwined and works together to make a system.

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I think a lot of us have something like that. I really like routes, maps and schedules. I like how everything is entwined and works together to make a system.

Yup, that's pretty much it for me too. For fun, I like to make new routes and schedules as if I was starting from scratch in a particular region in which I have taken transit in the past or present. I have lots of Google maps links...

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That's where I'm different, a lot of times I have trouble understanding schedules, I don't retain trip numbers in my head, my interest is more the history of companies and the various vehicles.

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Despite what we like or don't like, we all have something in our brain that makes us like these things and / or draws us towards these things.

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I'm just wondering what "that thing" is. Yeah I know I wonder about strange stuff. I'm like a overly inquisitive two year old always asking why when I get interested in something. The expression "can't see the forest for the tree's" has nothing on me. I can get hyper-focused on "needles"

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I'm just wondering what "that thing" is. Yeah I know I wonder about strange stuff. I'm like a overly inquisitive two year old always asking why when I get interested in something. The expression "can't see the forest for the tree's" has nothing on me. I can get hyper-focused on "needles"

Me too.

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Throughout effectively my entire childhood, people always thought I had...something. Nobody could ever figure out what it was. Admittedly I was more of a troublemaker than anything else in elementary school, getting into fights and just generally being a nuisance, but trips to the psychologist or psychiatrist were a regular occurrence beginning when I was in the first grade and continuing until about the seventh grade, with a brief recurrence in about grade 10. I don't recall autism ever being mentioned; one school simply labelled my issues a "behaviour problem", and a few years later the possibility of Tourette's syndrome was floated. Anger was a problem for me; when I was in the fifth grade, I had an angry outburst in PE class that resulted in my parents being called and me being sent to the emergency room because they thought I was mentally unstable and dangerous. (I attribute this incident to the fact that I was attending school in Montreal at the time, and my angry outburst took place in English, and we all know how most Quebeckers feel about anglophones - no offence to any francophone Quebeckers on here, but I was 10 years old and some of the stuff I saw at that school was downright ludicrous. Following that incident came a series of mandated follow-up visits to a psychiatrist; even at the age of 10 all I could think was "oh Lord, here we go again!") Anger continued to plague me for a while, though by the time I graduated high school I had, for the most part, brought it under control. Every now and again in my adult life it pops up, but even though I have a much easier time controlling it now, I try to keep it to myself because it embarrasses me to have someone see a side of me that I would prefer to keep under wraps. One afternoon last year I scared the living s**t out of my girlfriend when I literally collapsed in the street and started screaming at passersby. A buildup of latent stress, coupled with the feeling of being powerless in an unfavourable situation just became too much for me, and I lost control. The events that contributed to the stress buildup eventually led to me quitting my job last fall and taking on a much less stressful one. Trying to keep up the charade of being someone you think you're not, eventually catches up with you. When I left Canada two years ago to come to Taiwan and become a teacher I knew that it wouldn't be without its hardships and pitfalls, but I hadn't anticipated just how much I would miss the comfort of doing a job that I not only liked, but that I knew I was good at and I didn't need anyone to tell me so.

I struggled socially. I still do even to this day. I suppose it doesn't help that I am an only child and have always kept to myself because I feel I don't always understand other people. I reckon a lot of the folks on this board can probably relate to that, maybe not just because of the transit hobby either. I discovered the hobby around about the age of 16, though I didn't get involved until a few years later - early on I would just browse the internet looking for information and pictures, because I felt like I'd found something that really interested me. That's not to say I didn't have other interests, but they came and went, like every other school-age fad. The internet is great that way, I thought it was cool that I had this fascination that most of my peers didn't have, and that there were other people out there who were as interested as I was. Sure, I was perpetuating the cycle - I didn't understand other people, and they didn't understand me - but for once I felt like I didn't need them to understand me. I didn't care. When I made the transition from high school to university, I f**ked it up, badly, and I made some mistakes that caused me to effectively enter a downward spiral. Like I say, I struggled socially. I went in with expectations that were never met, because I just wasn't the right type of person to adjust quickly to the lifestyle that your average college student lives. My parents suggested that I seek treatment for clinical depression. But I recognized my mistakes, corrected them and turned myself around. All this time, the one constant was this transit hobby that never seemed to fail me, and the friends I made because of it. Some of those people know who they are, but they might not know just to what extent I valued having them in my life at that time - put it this way, if you were close to me or spent a lot of time with me from around late 2005 through 2006, then I'll be frank - you probably saved my life.

But even after I recovered from the mistakes I made, something still wasn't right. The problems that had dogged me throughout my childhood still lingered uncomfortably in the air. Looking back I don't think that I ever had a behaviour problem (I just got into more fights than the other students), I didn't have Tourette's (the symptoms came and went for a year or two before disappearing altogether, I think that was blown out of proportion), and I wasn't really mentally unstable (I was just uncomfortable in certain environments and had the tendency to do stupid things as a result). But I didn't understand other people, had trouble holding down friendships outside of the transit hobby (of all the people I met and got to know during the four and a half years I spent at university that I can never get back (jk), I can count on one hand the number whom I remain friends with today), and largely kept to myself. My life was my own, and to an extent I spent a lot of time watching the outside world go by as I stayed in my own little world. (Did I mention that when I was in about the third grade, an after-school care program all but kicked me out because they complained to my parents that I spent "too much time embroiled in fantasy worlds" and therefore "could not distinguish my own fantasy from its real-world consequences", or something to that effect. Years later my mom told me she figured the people that ran that place were a bunch of self-absorbed nitwits that didn't understand me. Sounds familiar.) I find social situations mentally draining, and I am usually unable to spend more than a certain amount of time actively interacting with other people in group situations, before I either fall silent and retreat mentally, or actively remove myself from the setting. I have trouble making friends. I don't think I fully appreciated that reality until I moved to Taiwan, and a year and a half later I still had nobody that I could call up on any random day and meet up with at a moment's notice. (That has changed in the past six months, mostly thanks to one of my coworkers at my current job who recently got interested in photography and took the initiative to start a photography group with some other people he'd met either through the internet or from our other coworkers.) But I discovered as time went by that in the transit hobby, and in the bus industry in general, I feel at home. My first teaching job in Taiwan felt like a constant struggle to prove myself, which never seemed to be the case beyond the first few months at any of my transportation jobs. (With one notable exception, and that was another case of me f**king up royally by making a bad first impression. Poor social skills reared their ugly head. I did the same thing at my first teaching job. Talk about failing to learn from my mistakes.)

And that's the thing I miss most, living here in Taiwan. I like my job now, there's not as much stress and I took great pains to make a good first impression, with the result that I get along fine with most of my coworkers. But fundamentally, this isn't who I am. I don't think I meet all of the requirements to be diagnosed with autism or even Asperger's, but I do meet some of them, some to a greater extent than others. I think I occasionally do suffer from sensory overload, particularly with my hearing. My girlfriend remarks that I often have to ask her to repeat things she's said (not because I wasn't listening, because I usually know she's just said something but it was incomprehensible to me), suggesting my hearing isn't good, but in situations where there is a lot of background noise I find I either raise my voice much more than is actually necessary because the noise seems so loud (which results in my girlfriend telling me not to talk so loud), or I just don't talk at all because I feel that I won't be able to make myself heard above the din (for example, in a noisy restaurant or a similar small crowded space). It has been said that some people with Asperger's may struggle socially because they have difficulty feeling certain emotions or don't know how to react emotionally in certain situations, particularly in those of sadness or grief, and therefore may subsequently be labelled as cold, cruel, or even calculating or heartless. I've experienced this, I don't know if others have, but when I was in my final year of high school, a student in the year below me died. He had been fighting cancer for some time, but had already returned to school once and so his death came as a shock to the school. I didn't know him well, but as the entire school was reeling with grief I felt nothing. All I could manage to think about was how the situation was going to affect other activities that had been planned. To the average person, this seems like a selfish, heartless reaction to the situation, but the reality is that some people just aren't capable of certain emotions, or have a limited range of emotions. In the years since the death of that student, I have lost friends, coworkers and family members, and I think in those situations my reaction was a little more appropriate, but I still can't shake the feeling of being alone in this emotional void while everyone around me mourned someone they either called a close friend or didn't know at all other than by name. It was also frequently noted by educators that I had an extreme aversion towards leaving my comfort zone, trying new things where I didn't know if I would succeed or not, and getting into situations I wasn't familiar with.

So maybe I fall through the cracks. Maybe I just overthink everything too much and don't act on it. But let me ask an open question. Is there anyone else on here who cannot fathom the number of people out there who seem to remain close with all the same damn people they went to high school (or even elementary school) with? Every time I look at Facebook I marvel at how the same names that appeared in the high school yearbook every year now appear together on the same news feed all the time. My best friend is a guy I went to high school with, but I'm not talking your closest friends here, I'm talking more like groups of 10 or 15, or more. It's like the graduating class went on without you and left you behind. My high school classmates are like that. My ex-girlfriend's high school classmates are like that. Some of my old coworkers' high school classmates were the same.

All this and I still haven't answered the initial question from canuck600 as to why there seems to be a correlation between the autism spectrum and the transportation hobby. Sure, it's listed as a symptom of Asperger's that one may have "specific and narrow areas of interest" that can be unusual in some cases, but - and as much as I hate to admit this - my dad may have given me the answer the last time I talked to him. People with Asperger's are likely to be fixated by objects and patterns at the expense of social interaction, and perhaps the common allure of unusual interests brings those people together under one umbrella, like a group of religious fanatics all gathered in a circle worshipping the same god. My problem with this theory is that it implicitly devalues the friendships such as those many of us have forged right here on this board - are we really about to admit that we are only friends because we chase buses, study schedules and paddles, and collect rollsigns, living under this common umbrella? I think this theory may have some weight in explaining how transit enthusiasts are drawn to befriend one another - we all understand each other better than we understand anyone else, more so those who actually have been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder or whatever. But I would argue against the idea that as soon as the bus leaves, we're strangers again. So I guess the question will have to go unanswered, for now.

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My problem with this theory is that it implicitly devalues the friendships such as those many of us have forged right here on this board - are we really about to admit that we are only friends because we chase buses, study schedules and paddles, and collect rollsigns, living under this common umbrella? I think this theory may have some weight in explaining how transit enthusiasts are drawn to befriend one another - we all understand each other better than we understand anyone else, more so those who actually have been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder or whatever. But I would argue against the idea that as soon as the bus leaves, we're strangers again. So I guess the question will have to go unanswered, for now.

I agree with you. Come for the buses, stay for the friends. The trolleys are gone in Edmonton, but the people that the trolleys brought together are still the best of friends. As for people on FB staying in touch with school friends. I think FB is partly to blame for that. As soon as you put down what school you went to or where you work, it will suggest friends. People do get rather 'click happy' on FB. Out of the 300 or 400 friends that you have, how many have you really met in person? And of those, how many are good solid friends that would say, visit you in the hospital or attend your funeral? I thought so. I try to use these criteria when accepting a friend on FB.

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Are you sure about that? I drive, and many other people on here have become bus drivers as well.

Edit: oops, Kit Kat beat me to it

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The hobby ought to be enjoyed without analysis, without scutiny and without a care in the world as to what people think. :)

I don't see any of this discussion as undue analysis or scrutiny. I think it's important for people to be able to talk freely about things and to know that first off, they're not alone in any problems they might be facing, and secondly that there is no shame in either a disability or condition, or an unusual hobby. Asking questions and seeking to know facts doesn't necessarily mean scrutinizing.

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I don't see any of this discussion as undue analysis or scrutiny. I think it's important for people to be able to talk freely about things and to know that first off, they're not alone in any problems they might be facing, and secondly that there is no shame in either a disability or condition, or an unusual hobby. Asking questions and seeking to know facts doesn't necessarily mean scrutinizing.

I agree. There's solace in being able to discuss things and knowing you are not alone regarding all this. I grew up before the computer age. I would have had a lot of support and felt a lot more confident had I known I wasn't the only bus focused person with an unusual hobby. Instead I was ridiculed, shamed, and labelled a 'freak' by my own parents and made to have 'my head examined' a few doctors. Not fun !!!

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I don't see any of this discussion as undue analysis or scrutiny. I think it's important for people to be able to talk freely about things and to know that first off, they're not alone in any problems they might be facing, and secondly that there is no shame in either a disability or condition, or an unusual hobby. Asking questions and seeking to know facts doesn't necessarily mean scrutinizing.

Fair enough.

I agree. There's solace in being able to discuss things and knowing you are not alone regarding all this. I grew up before the computer age. I would have had a lot of support and felt a lot more confident had I known I wasn't the only bus focused person with an unusual hobby. Instead I was ridiculed, shamed, and labelled a 'freak' by my own parents and made to have 'my head examined' a few doctors. Not fun !!!

Wow! :o

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It does seem like mental illness seems to be prevalent in the transit community. Speaking for myself, I have OCD, Anxiety, and depression for a while but I never posted it before because I thought that everyone here was relatively normal.

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For me. I have a temper & Severe ADHD you can tell that i sound depressed. But mainly im around relaxing and thinking about what to do then i doze off. I take naps alot though its not easy being me If my mom isn't home then i just go on my laptop. I rather relax

Sent from my GT-I9100M using Tapatalk

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I have not been officially diagnosed with anything, however, I seem to have some odd bus interests. For example, knowing when exactly buses in a series got repainted, when buses got retired, which buses got retrofitted with what features, etc. I simply enjoy knowing everything about buses. 

I hear that very specific interests are common in people with Asperger's but I seem to be normal otherwise. I am also very observant. As well, I have difficulties with social situations but I have gotten better over the years. When I was younger, I used to pace back and forth in my room (or my living room) because I enjoyed doing it. My parents told me to stop doing that as it was not the norm for people. Nowadays, I still do it sometimes (in my large sized bedroom) while listening to music to get my daily exercise. I actually find my pacing habit an advantage as that makes me enjoy exercise. I learned how to rein that habit in so it doesn't make me stick out as odd. Some people get bored doing it but I could do it for hours and still remain entertained and get exercise at the same time. This is the only real odd thing about me.

I also seem to be very advanced in my English skills as I seem to be the only student who can write a proper email with proper structure, punctuation, grammar, etc. My English teacher once complimented me on my email writing skills because she saw so many students who carelessly wrote emails with no punctuation or grammar. I consider every single one of my traits described here advantageous for me except for the difficulty in social situations.

My main interest in the transit community would be the actual vehicles themselves. I don't really care for trains, LRT, schedules, routes, etc. Never really found myself getting into them. I think people with autism spectrum disorders enjoy transit because of the set schedules. They're very big on consistency.

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Count me in, I have autism too.

I do have a hard time really paying attention to every word people say when they are talking and I get so bored listening to their chitter-chatter.

I say transit is common interest for people with autism because it gives them something to do and to talk about which other people don't really care about.

Anyway, There is no such thing as a "Normal" person, Just be you, don't ever give up your interest in transit just because of someone else.

 

 

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