Transport Open Letter: Make Public Transport Autism-Friendly

Ellen Lees
By Ellen Lees,
updated on Jul 6, 2018

Transport Open Letter: Make Public Transport Autism-Friendly

The National Autistic Society need 10,000 signatures to send the letter to the Department for Transport, encouraging them to make public transport more autism-friendly

As of today, the National Autistic Society (NAS) need less than 500 signatures to reach their goal. The letter, which calls for changes to be made to public transport, will be sent to the Department for Transport and transport providers across the UK.

The changes, which include training transport staff and providing more timely and up to date information, would benefit the three million autistic people in the UK, and their families.

Delays and unexpected changes in timetables can make any of us agitated, but for an autistic person, they can be a great source of anxiety and distress. A recent poll conducted by the NAS discovered that “nine in 10 autistic people say that unexpected changes, like delays on public transport, make them feel anxious” and more than half say that fear of unexpected changes has prevented them from getting on a bus or a train.

The letter, which notes that while “public awareness of autism is high, public understanding of autism still has a long way to go” covers the impact of autism and some of the common experiences and challenges autistic people face.

Autism is considered a ‘hidden’ disability, so it often misunderstood. According to the NAS, while 99.5% of people in the UK have heard of autism, only 16% of autistic people and their families feel the public understands how autism affects behaviour.

“All autistic people face different challenges, but some common experiences are extreme sensory issues, intense anxiety, communication challenges such as not speaking, delays in processing information and unease with unexpected change.

“This can make the world feel very scary and hard to understand.”

“We are asking all public transport providers to join with us and help make public transport more accessible for autistic people and their families” they write. “There are a number of things you can do to make your services more autism-friendly including training staff, thinking about physical surroundings and providing timely and up to date information.”

The NAS are less than 500 signatures away from their 10,000 target. If you would like to support the NAS and the changes they propose, you can sign here.

For more information on the National Autistic Society, or to keep up to date with their campaigns, you can visit their website or follow them on Twitter.

For mental health support and to find a counsellor near you, visit Counselling Directory.

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