Photo Story: Journey of Cheryl and May

Sep 30, 2022, 14:13 PM

30 Sep 2022

Title : Photo Story: Journey of Cheryl and May
Abstract : See from the perspective of a person with autism, Cheryl, and her caregiver, May, on travelling on the public transport.

This is a contribution piece by Mr Calvin Eng from The Birthday Collective based on the interviews done with the families. The quotes, opinions and images in this article are attributed to the author and the families. It does not represent the views of Caring SG Commuters.


From the perspective of a person with autism, catch a glimpse of their inner thoughts of travelling on public transport...


Cheryl-May (1)
Cheryl and May riding on the escalator
Source: Larry Toh


"Travelling down the escalator is like entering an unknown dungeon to me. Mummy says I must learn to suppress my fear, my discomfort to face new train rides, meeting new people, and encountering new situations that may happen. Being autistic, I don't like changes. I need predictability. Taking train rides for nearly 2 hours daily to travel between my Day Activity Centre (DAC) and home is a new challenge for me.”

- Cheryl


Cheryl-May (2)
Cheryl and May sitting down in the train
Source: Larry Toh


“Sitting among the crowd, I feel anxious. I will experience sensory overload. Mummy gives me a phone to watch videos while travelling, but I still feel anxious. I need to make some sounds and rock my body to regulate. However, this sometimes attracts hostile stares from strangers, and even scolding from them. I know they don't like me. But what should I do? I just want to go home.”

- Cheryl


Cheryl-May (3)
Cheryl and May in the train
Source: Larry Toh


"I need a break! I need to leave the train! I feel overwhelmed! I am trying my best. I close my eyes and I try to cut off all factors that are making me anxious. But Mummy says I need to go home. May continues encouraging me to bear with the ride. How much longer will this journey take?"

- Cheryl


On how Cheryl manages her inner feelings…


Cheryl-May (4)
Cheryl marking the train stations off as she passes each station.
Source: Larry Toh


“I mark upon reaching every station of my journey, this strategy visually informs me how many stops I have left, till I reach home. Sometimes I can get a seat and regulate myself, but many times - I don't. Now, with the "May I have a seat please" lanyard, some kind passengers will give up their seat for me. Thank you! I need a safe space to travel and count my stations ahead.”

- Cheryl


Cheryl-May (5)
Cheryl and May at a MRT station.
Source: Larry Toh


“Like all travellers, I want to complete my ride home safely to have dinner with my family. I have completed my training today at the DAC, I hope Mummy and Daddy will be proud of me as I tried my best! On days when I melt down, I am unable to complete my trip on public transportation, resulting in the need to take private hire cars. Sometimes, I witness my Mummy cry, as this incurs more transportation fee. I know they are trying their best to support me, and I really hope this will be a smooth journey home.”

- Cheryl



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