Transpo Museum = Super Fun Time For Autistic Kids?

Oliver, left, and Ravi Greene, who are regular visitors to the New York Transit Museum. Courtesy of the New York Times.

From The New York Times:

Like many children with autism spectrum disorders, Ravi is fascinated by trains and buses, entranced by their motion and predictability. And for years, these children crowded the exhibitions of the modest New York Transit Museum, chattering about schedules and engine components and old subway maps.

“This is really their element,” said Ravi’s mother, Juliana Boehm, who brings Ravi and Oliver, his 8-year-old brother, who is also on the autism spectrum, to the museum almost weekly. “If I suggested another activity,” she added, “it may have provoked anxiety.”

Huh. I don’t think that I have ever considered how museums might attract or benefit groups as specific as “kids with autism.” It makes me wonder what other oddly specific demographics museums should tailor programming for. I’m trying to think of some…


Maybe Dia Beacon could create a special program around minimalist art catered to control freaks? You know, a little Ad Reinhardt and Tony Smith or something? I don’t know. Still feels weird.

Does anyone else feel a weird nagging worry about the “autistic kids love trains” generalization? Is this just a stereotype or is it legit? I suppose the NYT knows their shit. But this paragraph sounds a little overblown:

Researchers and educators in the autism world are constantly trying to manage this passion. When trains rumble over the Manhattan Bridge past the rooftop playground in Brooklyn that the League Education and Treatment Center has for its children with disabilities, some students with autism stop playing and must be calmed down because they become so excited at the sight of a train.

Huh. *still trying to think of a comparable example*
I guess I’ll get back to you on that.

Ad Reinhardt with paintings. Couresy of Poulwebb


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