In my last blogpost I wrote about my troubles with travelling by plane and how I dealt with that. Now I want to talk about travelling by train.
Today I went travelling by train with my sister all day, with an all-day-train-ticket. We didn’t even make a plan for today, we only knew that we wanted to visit Schiphol again just for fun, but that’s all we knew. We just made our route up as we went. Pretty relaxed isn’t it? I wasn’t always like this with trains.
Truth be told, I haven’t travelled by train on my own until I went to bakery school (which is about 2 to 3 years ago). Even then I could only travel the bits that I already got used to, every new piece of track was cause for big stress. Especially when I had to transfer trains I was so nervous, I kept staring outside, looking for signs on train stations that I passed by, telling me how much train stations I was away from my transfer.
One day, which was still somewhere in my first half year in bakery school, a lot of snow fell. Well, a lot for The Netherlands. It was pretty unexpected snow, so all the trains had difficulty driving, making the whole schedule non-existing. You just pretty much had to ask the train driver, of the train that just arrived, if it was the right train. An usher on the platform told me which train to take and that I had to make a transfer. I was very nervous in the train and kept looking outside. Then I saw that my train didn’t stop at my transfer! I’ve been told wrong! This was cause for me to cry and ask other passengers what I should do to arrive at my destination.
So how did I just spend a whole day in the train, not even knowing where I’ll end up? This is due to my ex-boyfriend. I was together for more than a year with him and he was/is a big public transport fanatic. He especially likes trains. At the beginning of our relationship, he really liked for me to join him on a whole day of riding a train. I loved to join, but sadly told him why I couldn’t. He felt bad for me and started to make a very detailed schedule, color-marked and everything, of where we would be going, in which type of train, at which times. He even made a separate schedule for when we would miss a train. Besides that he explained a lot about train stations and how to find your way there and he showed me an application on his Smartphone that helped him plan his train routes. Comforting me like that, he took me by the hand and took me on my first all-day train ride. During the ride he told me a lot about trains. In fact, I now probably know more about trains than the average person, haha! But that’s good, there’s comfort in knowledge.
We took a few more train rides like this and after about half a year, I started to get more comfortable with the train. At first I didn’t dare doing such a thing without him. As soon as I had the budget for it, I purchased my own Smartphone, which would help me. But not just with trains, but with navigation everywhere! I love my Smartphone, it’s a lifesaver, it truly is.
After I purchased my own Smartphone, my sister decided to join my ex-boyfriend and me too. I started getting comfortable in travelling with her too and suddenly she and I had a few days of travelling by train too. One day my ex-boyfriend asked me ‘Where shall we go?’ and I said ‘Honestly? I don’t believe I’m saying this, but I don’t care… Let’s just travel and see where we’ll end up…’ I never saw him more surprised! He was happily surprised though.
This is how I learned to travel by train on my own. I can’t stress enough how important it is for most people with Autism to be calmly and well-informed introduced into something new, especially if they’re very nervous about it.
On a different note, since I talk a lot about my sister in my blog, you might be interested in her blog too. Her blog is in English. She talks about her life in general (so not a specific part of it). http://designy88.tumblr.com/
Here’s a little something for my creative Dutch followers: If you’re Dutch and very creative, you might enjoy this blog: http://mijncreatievewereld-annerieke.blogspot.com/
The blog is made by Annerieke. She helps out as a volunteer at the weekly Autism Meeting (Chill Aut) and makes the most beautiful things.