Research and the lived-experiences of autistic people are now showing that special interests are an important part of an autistic person’s make-up.
Special interests provide an engaging activity which brings personal benefits of self-worth and enjoyment. They provide opportunities to relax, reduce anxiety and shut-out environmental distractions. Supporting these special interests can have positive effects on their wellbeing, mental health and achievements:
The Engine Shed provides activities for autistic children who have a special interest in trains and transport. By engaging in their special interest, they are able to develop their social and communication skills.
Our events bring families with autistic children together. These families often struggle to attend public events and activities because they do not meet the needs of autistic children. This can be isolating for many children and families. By providing activities based on this special interest in a suitable setting, Engine Shed allows them to concentrate, learn and share their love for trains with other children who share their interest.
Engine Shed provides a safe and understanding environment for the children to develop social and communication skills which can be difficult in a public arena or at home. These skills are vital to the emotional well being of children and for their independence.
The following articles and research help to explain the importance of special interests:
- Autism, intense interests and support in school: from wasted efforts to shared understandings: New research showing that special interests are linked to a range of educational and longer-term benefits for autistic children.
- Why children with autism love trains: Telegraph article with the 10 best UK rail adventures for families (including the Engine Shed)
- Connecting trains: a dad writes about his son who was diagnosed with high-functioning autism and would happily spend his entire life on a train
- The Necessity of Special Interests for Me as a Person on the Autism Spectrum: an autistic adult explains the purpose special interests have in his life and how they are different than hobbies.