Dr. Grace Iarocci, director of SFU’s Autism and other Developmental Disorders Lab is currently managing a research project about children ages 6 to 19 years who are fascinated with trains.
This reminds me of a study done in the UK in 2001. The UK study took 81 parents of autistic children and found that 57% of the parents surveyed said that their autistic child related to Thomas the Tank Engine before relating to any children.
To quote the SFU notice:
“The goal of this study is to understand how special interests develop, how they affect learning about trains and how this learning is related to learning about social things.
For example, do we recognize trains as easily as we recognize faces? Ultimately, we want to understand how we might make use of the high internal motivation to learn about objects and apply that to aspects of children’s learning that they might be less interested in.
Participants will engage in game-like computer activities, paper and pencil tasks, and other actives at Simon Fraser University, Burnaby campus. Scheduling is flexible and there is a small monetary thank you for participating (movie pass, Chapters gift card, or cash).