If you could make your city autism-friendly, what would you?

Page 1 of 2 [ 18 posts ]  Go to page 1, 2  Next

harriet
Yellow-bellied Woodpecker
Yellow-bellied Woodpecker

Joined: 11 Jan 2016
Posts: 50
Location: Portugal

12 Jul 2016, 8:17 am

Hi there,

I'm thinking of writing to my MP, or maybe starting a petition to have our governments respect the rights of disabled people, such as those with autism, to be included in society. I feel that as somebody with sensory sensitivity (principally to noise) I am constantly in retreat from society, feeling assaulted every time I make the effort to venture into it. Public transport... shopping centres... my neighbour training his pigeons with a high-pitched whistle for an hour a day... people talking in the library... having loud picnics and drumming sessions in nature-spots I go to to escape... it feels like there is literally nowhere I can where I KNOW it will be quiet and I can finally relax. I am tired of spending half of my time in absolute silence because of having to wear earplugs and I even think this is making my sensitivity worse. I want to hear some sound, the birds sing, the wind blow, converse with my boyfriend etc without having to listen to all the telephones and music and cars honking TVs talking at you in the supermarket and people high-fiving eachother. On Saturday my boyfriend tried to take me for a coffee and I literally burst into tears at the park as a group of people began using a table as a drum. I don't know what the solution to this is.

Supposedly the disabled have the right to be included in society. Wheelchair users have campaigned heavily, and rightly so, for adjustments to be made to buildings and busses so they can access places. But what about the rights of those who can't access places because of the distress of the sensory overload that society ever increasingly seems to produce? How are we supposed to socialise, develop support networks, reduce our chances of depression and other mental illnesses promoted by isolation, when going out into the world leaves (some of) us more upset than when we stay at home?

I know sensory sensitivity doesn't just affect people with autism, but also ME, fibromyalgia suffers, people with SPD and other neurological disorders like Dementia. In an ideal world, I would like cities to have spaces/timetables in which people with such disorders, or just people who want a quiet life, KNOW they can go somewhere and not come home deeply distressed.

Admittedly this is perhaps a utopic idea, but if it could happen, what would it be like for you? How would your ideal city be? 'Quiet Hours at the shopping centre? (Turn off the music and tannoys and shop assistants can't approach you)?' Designated quiet parks?' Better enforcement of quiet rules at the library?

Obviously some noise can never be removed, like children crying for example, or ambulances, but I think it would be possible to at least improve things somewhat. Ideas?



Nine7752
Toucan
Toucan

User avatar

Joined: 3 Dec 2015
Age: 57
Posts: 269
Location: North of Nowhere

12 Jul 2016, 9:45 am

It's tricky because what you're talking about requires regulation of activities that would otherwise be free. Do you give tickets or jail time for people who talk too loud or have a drumming circle in the grass? Who decides how much is too much; and how to punish? What if one person's stimming bothers someone else on the spectrum? Arg.

The problem isn't regulation, it's density. Too many people in one place. The city. If you move out of the city, you won't face all of these things that are such an overload.


_________________
I swallowed a bug.


BTDT
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 26 Jul 2010
Age: 56
Gender: Female
Posts: 6,268

12 Jul 2016, 9:53 am

Yes, cities aren't autism friendly--too many people.

I once lived on a small island--perfect for someone who wants to get away from it all--as long as you don't need any services. A classmate of mine jumped off a fence, hurt himself, and died in the emergency room waiting for a doctor.



harriet
Yellow-bellied Woodpecker
Yellow-bellied Woodpecker

Joined: 11 Jan 2016
Posts: 50
Location: Portugal

12 Jul 2016, 11:21 am

Both good points, and I agree that the city is not good for autistic people, I often feel if I had been born 50 or 100 years ago my autism may not even be a serious problem, because there would be so much less aggravating stress and sensory issues. I bought a house last year and told my then psychologist I wanted to live in the countryside. He warned me against this though, saying ultimately isolation increases the risk of depression and other mental health issues.
Additionally, people with aspergers are often highly intelligent with great potential in their professional/artistic areas, which requires proximity to developed, often urban centres, in order to access the best education/culture etc. So basically, I don't think living in the country is what autistic people should have to do in order to find relief - unless they want to, of course, but should we really have to feel like it's our only option because cities can't accommodate us?

I read a really good article in the Guardian last week which said some cinemas are offering 'autism-friendly' nights, with lower stimulation environments, whilst some libraries are looking into creating autism-friendly rooms, also low-stimulation. It is recognised that some autistic people indeed make noise beyond their control, and of course, compassion and tolerance is warranted, but the principle is that different spaces can be created, and regulations introduced to protect these spaces, which enable autistic people to participate in their societies institutions and social venues.

I noticed last night at my local bar that they have a price for day-time and a price for night-time - because the night time is innately more crowded. That's where I got the idea of actually formalising 'quiet hours', where background music could be turned off and people asked to put their phones on silent. Not all changes necessarily have to be legally formalised, either. Many of society's 'codes' are normative. In this respect, awareness campaigns could also help perhaps, so that people understand if somebody struggles with noise, they are not just being controlling and intolerant.



BTDT
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 26 Jul 2010
Age: 56
Gender: Female
Posts: 6,268

12 Jul 2016, 11:27 am

Perhaps you could change your living schedule to take in a city's quiet time?

For instance, if you go out at sunrise everything is nice and quiet--even the parts of the city where people party all night!

Often, there are 24hr grocery stores--you can shop when the store isn't busy. Many restaurants aren't busy when the first open for dinner--even the ones that are very popular a few hours later.



harriet
Yellow-bellied Woodpecker
Yellow-bellied Woodpecker

Joined: 11 Jan 2016
Posts: 50
Location: Portugal

12 Jul 2016, 1:43 pm

That's a lovely, practical suggestion, thank you, and it's always good to hear ideas about how to overcome the challenges of autism. Unfortunately, my friends and boyfriend do not have autism. I have tried, for example, changing my sleep schedule to work early/go out in the morning, but it wakes up my boyfriend at 5am and if I fall asleep around 8/9pm but he's up until 1am, we can't sustain a relationship. Also, there are many activities that I do not want to do, like going out for dinner, socialising in groups, going to the pub, going out into town at the weekend, but I have to think about him too, and my friends and family, and how being in relationships/friendships with an autistic person doesn't mean having to sacrifice all of their needs as well. It's certainly very complicated, trying to balance everybody's needs.

Ultimately, however, I believe the most important issue is that autistic people have a right to be included in society - this is actual law in many countries. If we have to live like Vampires, avoiding people and social venues, adopting different life schedules, that doesn't feel like inclusion, at least to me.

On another note, it appears many social architects, at least, are looking into the concept of how to make environments and company cultures autism friendly, like this company, for example:

http://www.autismdesignconsultants.com/articles/



harriet
Yellow-bellied Woodpecker
Yellow-bellied Woodpecker

Joined: 11 Jan 2016
Posts: 50
Location: Portugal

12 Jul 2016, 3:05 pm

WOW - apparently in the last few months, Liverpool, in England, has begun a project to be England's first autism-friendly city, and is working in partnership with business and the community to both raise awareness and change the physical and social environment to better include autistic people. Amazing.

http://www.autismtogether.co.uk/liverpo ... ly-cities/



ASPartOfMe
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 25 Aug 2013
Age: 62
Gender: Male
Posts: 20,812
Location: Long Island, New York

12 Jul 2016, 4:27 pm

I decicate this song to Liverpool. It is the anthem for thier football club and seems apprepo


_________________
Professionally Identified and joined WP August 26, 2013
DSM 5: Autism Spectrum Disorder, DSM IV: Aspergers Moderate Severity

My autism is not a superpower. It also isn’t some kind of god-forsaken, endless fountain of suffering inflicted on my family. It’s just part of who I am as a person. - Sara Luterman


hfa62
Butterfly
Butterfly

Joined: 23 Jan 2016
Age: 1966
Posts: 14

18 Jul 2016, 9:36 am

i would have to remove all the people! haha



bryanmaloney
Blue Jay
Blue Jay

User avatar

Joined: 29 Apr 2013
Age: 54
Gender: Male
Posts: 99

20 Jul 2016, 3:07 pm

I would make it just like a small Irish town, such as Foxford, or a not-so-small Irish town, such as Ballina, except with a place where I could earn a decent living as a scientist.



cyberdad
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 21 Feb 2011
Age: 52
Gender: Male
Posts: 11,853

23 Jul 2016, 12:53 am

remove noisy birds



friedmacguffins
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 10 Feb 2010
Gender: Male
Posts: 2,547

23 Jul 2016, 12:33 pm

Status or qualifications based on Chinese-style placement tests. Besides the three R's, students are quizzed on cultural precedents and normative behavior. If my behavior is not normative, or I am incompatible with normal people, I am the odd man out, and I should be more accommodating. If I am sensitive to the smell of turkey on Thanksgiving, I should step out. If I am sensitive to the bright light and percussive sound of fireworks, on the 4th of July, I should walk in the country, not near the fairgrounds. I should not be asked to accommodate that, in the library, or on Valentine's Day. If I don't know what those are, in the country, where they are celebrated, I am properly considered a cultural alien.

Assuming that we even need any too-big-to-jail businesses, access to job openings, schooling, and useful resources, on a first come, first served, basis. (Not politics.) So long as discussions are civil and do not interfere with productivity, you will have as much adversity (I mean diversity) as you can stand.

No credit, except as a medium of exchange. There is a story, in which a native says, if he wants a canoe, he cuts down one tree. Civilized man is accused of cutting down all the trees. Can he do it by the sweat of his own brow. Or, can he afford such massive equipment, out of pocket, in a meritocracy? Can he become a robber baron, for no good reason. I highly doubt it.

Restitution of nameable damages, to a nameable party, as the basis of criminal justice. Most criminal offenses, and also social status, is now based on odious debts. One victim can sustain a loss, but the criminal is said to repay his debt to society, at large, as though an unelected arbiter or fractional reserve banker is the voice of the people. Perhaps, people with so many god complexes have no logical right to own a car, house, or business.

I helped a habitually-drunk, public employee, for no reason, other than she had taken-in my sister, once. She was moving out of a house, which she had lost, due to financial irresponsibility. The same couch, which my sister had once slept on, as she was being disrespected, was now soiled and threadbare. The unnamed, public employee will now live in a stranger's house, where she is unwanted. She will retain her social status, in my real-life, crumbling municipality.

I made myself do things I didn't like even, to the point of anxiety and illness, so have life-experience, to go with every one of my suggestions.



lostonearth35
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 5 Jan 2010
Age: 46
Gender: Female
Posts: 9,461
Location: Lost on Earth, waddya think?

26 Jul 2016, 12:29 pm

I guess the town I live in is fairly autism friendly (except for the schools), although it is largely unintentional, but the problem is that it is also incredibly BORING. It is also very bad to people who don't or are unable to drive. You have drive go go anywhere halfway decent, the bus is terrible and cabs are too expensive.

I would make the buses arrive at stops that are actually *in* the more rural areas, and they would have new ones arrive every ten minutes. I would also design the bus shelters so that they actually shield you from the sun so it's not like you're standing inside a greenhouse in the summer, and insulate you from the cold in the winter, and they'd actually have a place to sit down in. I would make sure the drivers are friendly and reliable instead of acting like they are planning murder-suicide by crashing, and actually wait until everyone has sat down before going on their way and then I don't lose my balance and fall like an idiot because I still haven't found a seat. I would have at least two buses going to the same destination at once so they won't be overcrowded and I don't have to stand and worry that every movement is going to make me fall and take several people down with me.

Yeah, but that's never going to happen, and I hate it. :x



harriet
Yellow-bellied Woodpecker
Yellow-bellied Woodpecker

Joined: 11 Jan 2016
Posts: 50
Location: Portugal

10 Aug 2016, 10:31 am

Hey everybody,

I'm sorry for not replying sooner, for some reason I didn't get any notifications and thought my question was just really unpopular lol. I've enjoyed all your suggestions and laughed at many of them :) People eh, can't live with them, can't live without them!

It's tricky isn't it, I'd love to live in the country but agree that the countryside doesn't necessarily provide the kind of high-culture, diversity, academic/professional excellence that might be stimulating for people with diverse special interests. I think I would get bored living and working in the country even if I were considerably more relaxed. Having said that, perhaps some type of financial assistance with travel to the country might be really helpful for autistic people, like a free travel pass for the train networks that go to the countryside, for example, or help with a fuel allowance to enable autistic people to get out of the high-stimulus urban environments for some downtime and help with stress management.


I have to say after months of thought I think transport networks might be the most problematic place for me. Most other environments I at least have some control over and can simply leave. A couple of weeks ago I had to make a complaint to an airport after spending 2/3 hours going through a particularly busy security check, cramped and surrounded by people with their mobile phones going, with flourescant lighting and low ceilings. After being herded through security I was stuck in the busiest noisiest waiting area I've ever seen in my life and literally cried for the first part of the journey and remained in shock for the rest of the trip home.

The other big one for me is busses, firstly because in my area they are so unpredictable about schedules and then pack people into small spaces, many of whom then seem to use their free time to explore their ringtone collection/chew gum/scream. Aside from that I have managed to reduce stress by shopping at quiet times, as ASpart of me suggested. In England, if you-re lucky, you can request to be placed in the 'quiet coach' on the train, and once when I asked where it was, the conductor told me there wasn't one but I was welcome to sit in first class for free (awesome guy, I didn't even known I had AS at the time and was just struggling due to noisy passengers). I think some small change like obliging passengers to put their phones on silent before they get on public transport would massively help me. You can't stop all noise obviously but at least some reduction would help, for me at least.

Any thoughts? Other suggestions?

Hope everybody has a great day

(p.s, my dad moved to the Irish countryside, he has never been happier)



alex
Developer
Developer

User avatar

Joined: 13 Jun 2004
Age: 33
Gender: Male
Posts: 10,116
Location: Beverly Hills, CA

10 Aug 2016, 10:46 am

Large cities have a lot of noise.

One thing that really struck me when I last visited New York City was how loud the subway is and how draining it is to spend even 15 minutes traveling via public transport.

In Los Angeles, the public transport isn't as good as NYC by a long shot. But when you travel via uber or driving your own car, it's much more bearable if you have sensory issues.

With that said, I would prefer if Los Angeles had better public transportation options. The subway system is improving, however. In a few years there will be a subway station in walking distance of my house.


_________________
Follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/alexplank

Personal FB: http://fb.me/alexplank1