MBTA Nerve Center visit scores with autism families

BOSTON — Children with autism got the opportunity to see how Massachusetts transit systems work on Thursday afternoon.

“For whatever reason kids with autism are drawn to feats of mechanical engineering — the everyday things we take for granted,” said Jonathan Trichter, founder of the Autism Transit Project — which seeks to connect those with autism to mass transit systems. “This project for autism acceptance month is so perfectly tuned to what this month means.”

It means embracing passions, however atypical they may seem.

About twenty kids with autism and their parents gathered at the MBTA’s nerve center in downtown Boston, touring the darkened rooms where T workers monitor trains and buses. The children gained a better understanding of the day-to-day operation of the transit system.

“This just means so much to our families our special needs community that we’re embraced,” said Robin Tarjan, a parent of a child with autism. “Our children grow up into young adults who need to lead productive and interesting and fun lives, just like everyone else.”

Elizabeth Gomes, another parent of a child with autism, appreciated the tour for another reason: it gave her a better sense of security knowing how closely the T keeps an eye on the system.

“As a parent of an autistic child, we always fear for our children, especially kids in the highest spectrum, who are able to travel throughout the city of Boston,” Gomes said. “When my son takes the T, I am constantly calling him... ‘where are you’... ‘how you doing’... ‘make sure you call me when you get to this stop.’”

As part of the tour, the kids recorded public service announcements that will be played in MBTA stations four times an hour for a month.

At a press conference after the tour, some of the kids read what they recorded.

“Hi everybody my name is Jacob, and happy Autism Acceptance Month,” said Jacob. “If the doors don’t close the train won’t leave. Thanks and have a nice day.”

“You can’t watch videos while driving but you can on MBTA trains,” read Ashton’s PSA. “But please be a good transit rider and wear headphones.”

Amir’s announcement surged into song.

“Attention passengers,” he started. “Accidents can happen when people stand too close to the platform.”

Mason didn’t reveal his announcement — only his abiding passion for all-things MBTA.

“Today I was on the Orange Line at Forest Hills station to Downtown crossing,” he said. “It was amazing and I had a good time doing it.”

Download the FREE Boston 25 News app for breaking news alerts.

Follow Boston 25 News on Facebook and Twitter. | Watch Boston 25 News NOW

Comments on this article