Apologies for running three items in a row about public transit — the thing is, I spend a lot of time on it these days. Anyway, the main point of this anecdote is the way that people with autism frequently have a better grip on the difference between ‘real’ and ‘not-real’ than do the neurotypical.
We were walking to the subway, overhearing an autistic-spectrum boy we know telling his helper what he wanted for his birthday.
— I want trains, he said.
— Real trains? asked his helper.
— No, not real trains, pretend trains. (Pause.) Pretend trains, like in a book about trains, he explained.
About 20 minutes later, we were on the Queen streetcar and a couple of blokes were talking loudly about macho stuff. One of them said how he was going to get a train set for his four-year-old nephew.
— A real train, he said, so he doesn’t have to play with girly things.