The 58,000 people in Scotland who are on the autism spectrum are finding their voice during World Autism Awareness Week and that includes Girvan’s Christopher Miller.
The National Autistic Society has released a powerful new film that gives people an insight into how difficult travelling on public transport can be for people with autism.
Unexpected changes, such as delays or cancellations on trains and buses may be an irritation to many but for those with autism it can be overwhelming and many avoid public transport because of those feelings, often leaving them isolated and lonely.
The film follows an autistic woman who is so anxious about her train journey to work that she feels unable to leave the house at all. She becomes completely overwhelmed as she imagines all the things that could go wrong: delays, diversions and cancellations, loud crowds and the tuts and stares that come when her discomfort becomes visible.
Christopher Miller, 28, who lives in Girvan, Ayrshire, said the film reflects his own experiences of travelling on public transport.
He said: “On one occasion, while taking a journey on the Glasgow subway, I had to cover my ears and eyes due to the loud noise and shaking of the train – I just wanted it to end and to leave the train. This was very embarrassing as everyone was looking at me. It made my anxiety even worse.
“I feel isolated from using public transport and worry about using it. Being on-board a train or bus can make me feel trapped, and in turn, it can be an effort to breathe.”
Fiona McGrevey of the National Autistic Society Scotland, said: “We know people don’t set out to be judgmental towards autistic people.
“We can all make a big difference by finding out more about autism and the small things we can do to make the world more autism friendly. For instance, if you see someone having a hard time you can help by understanding that the person could be autistic.”