For the love of Thomas!! Autism and Thomas the Tank Engine.

“They’re two they’re four they’re six they’re eight
Shunting trucks and hauling freight
red and green and brown and blue
they’re the really useful crew
All with different roles to play
Round Tidmouth sheds or far away,
Down the hills and round the bends
Thomas and friends”

Once my son Lincoln took off at Chapters. I panicked for a full 3 seconds until I realized that I had nothing to worry about. I knew where he had gone, and I knew he would not leave there unless forced out.

See, in the kids section of Chapters there in an ingenious collection of toys AND the best lure of all, A Thomas the Tank table with engines (not trains, never trains!) available to play with!

There is a constant with kids on the spectrum and his name is THOMAS! I am not sure why, though I have heard theories of many…faces are easy to read, trouble is always part of the equation, engines never really fit in, lots of movement, colours etc.

My son started out Thomas-free but at 4 and a half  or so blossomed into a hardcore Thomas fanatic. WE easily have all the trains and I am not even going to think about how much they all cost. I imagine I could have bought him his very own real train.

Thomas rules the DVD, computer, PVR. Thomas books to read, Thomas songs to watch on YOU TUBE if you can believe it.

THEN it stopped. 2,3,6 months went by. My Husband and I never asked why (I loathe Thomas and just hearing that goofy little ditty makes me cringe) Lincoln moved on to Dinosaurs (another ASD fav) and superheroes (3 other brothers make it hard not to jump on the bandwagon atleast short term) and then animals…odd ones.

Then after 8-9 months Thomas free…one day we walk in to see…”WHAT??!!?? Thomas?”

We scratch our heads in utter perplexity.

How did this happen?


What caused the relapse??

I’ve asked my son a million times and he never has given me a satisfactory answer so I have concluded a few details by myself.

1) Thomas is a security blanket of sorts. Although I am unable to connect together the “whys” I do know that the reappearance of Thomas often comes with a behavioral change (good or bad and almost always mild)

2) Lincoln never wants to share his Thomas experience. I use to think it was a common like he used to help socialize or make friends. He really does not like to share Thomas. Ask to play, he’ll give you Daisy (a unpopular girl engine) or little percy (not him most favorite engine either) and tell you to hit the road. He has NO interest in playing with anyone when it comes to his Engines.

3) Engine play comes with LOTS of load crashing, er, confusion and delay (as per Sir Topham hat), and chuffing, pulling loads and blowing their stacks. My Autistic son loves to reenact LOTS of crash sequences and they are incredible loud!

4) Story lines are interesting in Thomas. Lincoln from a very young age would regurgitate back  huge sections on episodes verbatim and sometimes with re-enact the entire episode.

But, whatever the reason for Thomas resurfacing I am fairly certain there is some shared comfort in this bunch of characters –for speak to any mother with a child on the spectrum and they will likely have a house full of Thomas!

The whole gang!


6 thoughts on “For the love of Thomas!! Autism and Thomas the Tank Engine.

  1. Our 4 year old has been diagnosed as having ASD…I think we have every Thomas toy available ..his favorite is the small trains with magnets on the front and back so he can join them in one long line ..Our 16 y/o has Aspergers and his favorite thing growing up was Toy Story ..

    • Hi Stuart!

      My son doesn’t care for the CGI ones either!

      Thank you so much for sharing your comments.

      Lincoln just loves trains and I can see this may be an enjoyment that carries on through his life as well.

      Have a great weekend and hope to hear from you again 🙂


  2. Hiya all,

    Thank goodness the internet and DVD players weren’t around in 1984 – 85, when I was bitten by the Thomas the Tank Engine bug! Like your lad, I am also on the autism spectrum (diagnosed with Semantic Pragmatic Disorder in 1986), and a fan of Thomas the Tank Engine too.

    I too have a lifelong interest in trains, and the collected works of Reverend Wilbert Awdry owe a significant debt to that. My early memories of Thomas the Tank Engine came from the original series narrated by Ringo Starr. In my country [the United Kingdom], the series began in October 1984, airing on ‘Children’s ITV’. (In the UK, 28 years ago, commercial television was provided by the then new Channel Four and ITV [Independent Television]. The latter having regions such as Granada Television which served my locality; Children’s ITV was a national service for all its regions).

    I’ve seen one episode of the ‘new-fangled’ CGI created seasons, and I couldn’t take to it in the same way as the first three seasons’ episodes which used model railways instead of CGI. I loved the graphics, but it didn’t seem like the series I loved when I was five years old.

    Bye for now,


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s