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Sunday, May 14, 2023

Autism Transit Project

In The Politics of Autism, I discuss efforts to raise the issue's profile and include autistic people in everyday life.

Alexa Liacko at Scripps News:
In the hustle and bustle of taking the train, you just might miss it, but if you listen carefully, it will be hard not to smile.

7-year-old Immanuel Stephens knows a thing or two about trains.

"What I like about trains is that it goes fast. It goes under the tunnels and go through the city. We get to see the city, the conductor drives the train. And I think that's it," said Stephens.

Immanuel has autism, and for many kids like him, trains and other very complex engineering systems are much more than mundane.

They’re a playground for learning and interacting.

And now, Immanuel is even more excited about his favorite spot because he and other kids and young adults with autism recorded announcements for passengers.

"Hi, my name is Immanuel. Please help us to keep MARTA clean. Please don't litter. Hope you'll enjoy your ride!" Immanuel says in his announcement.

These announcements are part of a nationwide effort called The Autism Transit Project, they’re playing on MARTA in Atlanta, in the subways of New York, and in trains in San Francisco, New Jersey, and Washington, D.C.

All to make sure the voices of those with autism are heard and included.

"Oftentimes, kids with autism, no matter what level on the spectrum they're on, are excluded and misunderstood, including Immanuel," said Immanuel’s mom, Lisa Stephens. "But this project has afforded a number of individuals throughout the country an opportunity to show ‘I am unique. I'm special. I'm versatile. I'm capable.’"