Add Autism to the qualifying criteria for a Disabled Persons Railcard

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Robin Tamblyn
Robin Tamblyn signed this petition

My name is Robin and I was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, a form of autism, several years ago in my mid-30’s. I also experience claustrophobia and anxiety so travelling on busy public transport presents some challenges for me.

I recently took a long trip from Devon to the London area to visit my family in the south east of England. The train was very crowded when I got on and the reservations had not been added (an extra carriage had been added to the train which had meant none of the reservations were showing). So there was already someone sitting in my reserved seat – I found another seat (possibly already reserved by someone else) but was getting quite panicky by this point as there were already people blocking the aisles and the train had not even left the station yet!

When the train manager came along the train I explained how stressed I was getting and showed her my Autism Awareness card that I carry in my wallet. She very kindly took me into another carriage and said that I could sit in the first class section if I was too uncomfortable in standard class. This made the journey a lot less challenging for me as there was a lot more room and no crowds there.

I decided that any future long trip that I took on the train would probably need to be in the first class section as I can no longer cope with the noise and cramped conditions in standard class for any length of time. I checked the requirements to obtain a Disabled Persons Railcard – which according to its website is supposed to be for “people with a disability that makes travelling by train difficult.” I was surprised to see that autism is not mentioned, despite many people with autism struggling with this form of transport. It doesn’t seem to make sense that anyone with a hearing aid, for example, can get a DPR but an autistic person can only “qualify” if they are in receipt of Personal Independence Payments or Disability Living Allowance (I have never applied for these).

Living with Asperger’s Syndrome is difficult and I struggle every day to cope with the sensory overload of the world around me. Being able to travel first class in a train on long journeys would make a big difference to my mental well-being.

I cannot be the only person in this position. Please sign my petition if you agree that ALL people with autism should be considered eligible for a Disabled Persons Railcard – it would make our lives just a little bit easier.