Autism-friendly public bus transport: A personal experience–based perspective
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Community participation and the formation of social networks are crucial for a qualitative life. To this end, transportation plays an essential role. Many autistic people rely on public transportation for their mobility needs. However, research shows that it is not always easy for them to use it. The issues they face when using public bus transport have not yet been thoroughly studied. The current case study in Flanders aimed to give autistic people the opportunity to express the issues they face while using public bus transportation. A qualitative hermeneutic phenomenological study was carried out. Semistructured interviews were conducted with 17 autistic individuals. The interviews were analyzed based on the interpretative phenomenological analysis method. Three main themes emerged: creating predictability, limiting stimuli, and open and accessible communication. In addition, various coping strategies were described, such as the use of noise-canceling headphones. The results of this study may lead to a more autism-friendly public transportation environment. Lay Abstract: Transportation plays an essential role in daily life, allowing people to participate in the community and form social relationships. Many autistic people rely on public transportation to meet their mobility needs. However, research shows that it is not always easy for them to use it. The exact issues autistic individuals face when traveling with public transportation and how public transportation can be made more autism-friendly have yet to be researched. The current study allowed autistic individuals to express themselves regarding issues they face while traveling by public bus transportation, to raise awareness for making public transportation more autism-friendly. We interviewed 17 autistic individuals about their experiences riding the bus. Three main themes emerged from the results: creating predictability, limiting stimuli, and open and accessible communication. If transport companies take initiatives related to these themes, autistic people traveling by bus can have a more pleasant experience. Participants also described coping strategies for stressful or uncomfortable situations while using public bus transportation, such as using noise-cancelling headphones or digital applications for real-time route tracking, etc. These findings may lead to a more autism-friendly public transportation.
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