In June and July 2001, The National Autistic Society conducted a survey of 81 parents of children with autism and Asperger syndrome to investigate their putative 'special relationship' with Thomas the Tank Engine. The survey confirmed our assumption from anecdotal evidence that children with autism spectrum disorders associate far more strongly with Thomas the Tank Engine than with other children's characters.
Thomas plays a vital role in the lives of some children with autism, acting as an initial point of entry into realms as vital as speech, emotion and imagination. For many other children on the autism spectrum, Thomas serves as a comforting, familiar and reassuring presence in a world that is frequently frightening and incomprehensible. - Resource:
The National Autistic Society, London, England. "Do children with autism spectrum disorders have a special relationship with Thomas the Tank Engine and, if so, why?" Research undertaken by Aidan Prior Communications. February, 2002. http://www.nas.org.uk/
Using these interests to work on social skills may be the key to making it more understandable to our kids. Thinking about using those high interests to pull them into our confusing world of social subtleties and nuances. We are in the process of reviewing such social skills resources that use these interest areas, so stay tuned!