As an autistic person I have some habits that might appear unusual to some other people, like talking to myself. These behaviours help me to soothe my nerves, regulate myself and feel less lonely. I also find that chatting to myself helps me remember things.
Sometimes I talk to myself on the train, but I am careful to wear my headphones and hold a phone screen in front of me.
One of the places where I get stressed is on trains because most passengers sit or stand in silence and ignore each other.
So sometimes I talk to myself on the train, but I am careful to wear my headphones and hold a phone screen in front of me. If I did it without looking at a phone or wearing my headphones then people would not be nice about it. They’d think I should not be allowed out alone.
Thirty years ago, when most people didn’t have mobile phones, I wouldn’t have been able pretend I’m talking to someone else.
They’d think I should not be allowed out alone.
The other things I do to calm myself on trains are singing and repeating certain phrases. I’m more likely to try these things if the train is delayed or I’m feeling especially lonely – always in the hope of encouraging people to talk to each other. Once I took a video of myself singing on a train. If I ever put it on TikTok I’d put it on a private setting so that I would keep myself safe and only friends could see it.
I think there should be more TV adverts about how to spot someone on public transport feeling anxious or having a panic attack. And there should be panic alarms so people can ask for help.