As a person living with total blindness, things can already be quite challenging for me. Throw an autism diagnosis into the mix, and you’d think I’d be lost.

However, since receiving my diagnosis a few years ago, I’ve never felt so free in my life. Free to express myself how I want and know why I am like I am when I do it. Free to indulge in my interests and hobbies that some would consider odd for my age. And free to connect with other people similar to me who share said interests and hobbies and know what they might be going through too.

Some of my interests and hobbies include travelling on trains and other rail transport, riding in lifts and collecting toys. As someone in the autistic community, I am proud to have these unique hobbies, as many people within this community share them with me, especially people with more higher needs than myself.

I always love being able to express my interests around other people, especially with those similar to me in terms of neurodiversity, as I feel they can relate to them more easily. Whenever the topic of trains comes up, I always get quite animated talking about it, even more so if the conversation is about a particular train or network I know a lot about. My home city, Melbourne, has both train and tram networks. I pride myself on knowing as much as I can about the different lines and all their stops, each type of rolling stock and which ones serve each line, what year each was introduced, and various other random facts.

The only thing I enjoy more than talking about trains and trams is, of course, riding on them, either by myself or with others. I particularly enjoy riding them with friends or family, as it gives me an opportunity to talk about the various topics listed above to no end, though I can understand how this might become annoying very quickly to whoever is in the vicinity.

However, I am lucky enough to have impressed several fellow passengers and even drivers throughout the years with all that I know, and some have even said I should work for the different rail operators. Wow!

It’s a similar story with lifts. I love researching and talking about them, particularly the different companies that make them, their types and models of lifts, and other defining features such as chime sounds, buttons and voices, among others.

Just like with trains, I love telling anyone I’m with all about a particular lift we might be in or near, even if I haven’t been in it before. But again, best of all is just getting to ride them.

I especially love to ride lifts I’ve seen videos of on YouTube or heard about from others. Sometimes I’ll even go into the city on my own just to ride certain lifts myself. Paired with a train and sometimes tram ride, it’s a great way for me to exercise my independence and express my interests both at the same time.

I also love collecting and playing with toys, especially from movies, TV shows or other media I have an interest in. I love going to the shops and seeing the various toys and collectibles available, and enjoy buying them when I can. I even like collecting older toys I may have missed out on when I was younger, usually through second-hand websites like eBay or Gumtree.

I have quite the collection at home, and my parents have even joked that I could open up my own toy shop with how much I own.

These are probably the main ways I would say I express myself as someone with autism. Everyone expresses themselves differently, so I’m sure while some may have the same or similar interests to me, they may express themselves in different ways to me. But overall, I hope anyone who reads this can relate, either personally or through someone they know.

– Sam

A List Ambassador

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