The New York Transit Museum just created a program for children on the autism spectrum who have a special interest in trains and transportation. In order to educate kids with autism on the transit system, the museum started their Subway Sleuths program as an after-school and summer camp program for students grades 2-5.
How awesome is this, right? So, how does it work? Subway Sleuths uses the participants’ special interest areas to help enable peer-to-peer interactions. Elyse Newman, the education manager for the New York Transit Museum, explained the program to The Mighty:
“Because trains are a popular special interest area of individuals with autism, the New York Transit Museum is the perfect setting for this type of developmental work. A passion for transportation and trains is a requirement for the program, for that shared interest serves as the glue that brings the students together.
Nearly seven years ago the Transit Museum recognized that children with autism and a special interest in trains were coming to the museum frequently. While the Museum clearly was a place of excitement and comfort for these children, the Museum didn’t have programs to directly engage them in ways that met their learning needs. Given the lack of after school opportunities for children living with autism it seemed obvious that the Museum should develop a program to give participants a positive, fun and supportive environment when they need it most – during out-of-school time.”
The program is interactive, as each session starts with the participants managing their own expectations and group work. Each child gets to participate in two activities–activities include designing a giant subway map, taking and reviewing pictures, as well as games involving non-verbal communication to make the toy train tracks.
Better yet, the program is small, with each semester enrolling a total of 18 students per 10- to 12-week program. Those students are then divided into three smaller groups, each led by a special education teacher, Transit Museum educator and speech language pathologist. Each semester costs $350 to $450, and there are scholarships available for those who can’t afford the program.
You can learn more about New York Transit Museum’s Subway Sleuths program through its website.