Following up on my Greta Thunberg post on climate activism and autistic thinking. Here is a recent passage on her Asperger’s diagnosis.
More on Thunberg here:
Following up on my Greta Thunberg post on climate activism and autistic thinking. Here is a recent passage on her Asperger’s diagnosis.
More on Thunberg here:
In honour of of my wonderful different thinking boy I note the passing of the Wii shop channel.
What??!! I hear you think. The Wii for many millions of people was a break out form of social family gaming with quirks and joy and fun and creativity often at the core.
A vast number of current games in social gaming are tilted to preying on nascent addictive behaviour and predatory designs that tap into strongly wired human learning mechanisms and behaviour. Not that any game is free from inducing dopamine or stimulating the nucleus accumbens of our brains but the Wii for me was a part of gentler age of gaming and its quirky interactions with physical movements and its broader appeal to females made it a positive part of social and relationship “capital”.
The Wii was quirky. The Wii shop was a quirky interface. And in terms of design thinking rather than function over form or form and function - I think it embodies the idea of fun for fun sakes and to celebrate the quirky individual of creativity as seen by Miis.
...and that jingle theme tune....
D-du d-du d-du d-doooo
D-du d-du d-du d-doooo
D-DU D-DU d-du d-doooo
D-DU D-DU d-du d-doooo
Du-d-doooo d-d-d-du-du-dooo du
I honour the quirks and acknowledge some of us may have lost a tiny part of our souls.
(via) The Lindy effect is a concept that the future life expectancy of some items or concepts such as technology or an idea is proportional to their current age, so that every additional period of survival implies a longer remaining life expectancy. My idea of Lindy comes from reading Nassim Taleb, who expands upon the writings of Beniot Mandlebrot who described an effect of a deli
Lindy is a deli in New York, now a tourist trap, that proudly claims to be famous for its cheesecake, but in fact has been known for the fifty or so years of interpretation by physicists and mathematicians of the heuristic that developed there. Actors who hung out there gossiping about other actors discovered that Broadway shows that lasted, say one hundred days, had a future life expectancy of a hundred more. For those that lasted two hundred days, two hundred more. The heuristic became known as the Lindy Effect.
Perhaps, it can be best thought of via example eg that butter is more Lindy than margarine and that olive oil is a very lindy cooking oil of our times.
Lindy is not really meant to be applied to perishable items. Nonperishable are Lindy. Ideas, technologies and institutions.
So… I think autistic thinking has been Lindy over the ages. Why might this be the case?
Autistic thinking tends not to follow the dominant social consensus thinking of the time, I also argue, autistic thinking can importantly lead to radical breakthrough where you have leaps of understanding that perhaps typical thinking would not demonstrate.
Rates of ASD diagnosis in the US are around 1 in 65, with New Jersey as high as 1 in 45 and between 1 in 50 to 1 in 100 a likely typical range in Level 4 countries.
If you look back 70,000 years there’s evidence that early man, Neanderthal man looked after his disabled siblings into old age..
Anecdote suggests that autism and autistic thought has been present in human society for hundreds of years, while both environment and genetic factors both plays roles I find it noteworthy that nature and its Darwinian forces seemingly have conserved autism and that autistic thinking might be Lindy.
If there is some aspect of autism that is Lindy why might it be so? I might be entirely wrong but let’s go a storytelling...
Why might that be…?
Autistic thought tends not to follow the crowd of “herd” thinking or social pressure or social learning.
These traits can be incredibly useful.
Think about any paradigm shift in thought which requires ideas outside of normal. A non-autist has social pressures and social learning that an autism might not.
An ice age has set in. On the one hand, you need tools and weapons to hunt. You need social communication to co-ordinate large groups of people. You need leaders of those groups.
But, you need inventors to create tools which are different to the status quo. If everyone hunts the mammoth in only one way and that way stops working, you need someone who can think differently and sees a solution not because “we’ve always done it this way” but because there’s a way that makes sense to autistic thought that non-autistic thought can’t reach easily.
The rest of the human society, maybe the leader of those small ape-like human groups, can see the value in these different autistic thinkers who have ways of seeing and answers to problems the “herd” can not solve.
Maybe I go too far to suggest that this different thinking is treasured.
But if the autistic way has been treasured for tens of thousands of years, perhaps that’s one explanation for why is survives in humans today.
And with estimated rates of 1 in 100 (and rising) with close to 1 in 45 in New Jersey being diagnosed on the spectrum, is this an argument for autistic thought being Lindy - and for why we should still treasure our autists and their way of being.
Anoushka won an award for her work in founding Transport Sparks. Transport Sparks is a charitable community group that helps young people with special needs (many autistic) access, meet up, explore and share a love of all things transport.
From nothing, in a few short months, the group is now a few hundred strong and doing Sparky things all over the country.
This is the joyful side of social media and community.
The Spark community also now has a stronger voice when interacting with more typical institutions and companies who run events or transport. The Sparks use that voice to lend strength to voices that are often unheard. These give better ideas to typicals who often don’t fully comprehend the complexities of atypical or disability life.
The award was from a nomination, unknown to us, to National Rail. This led to the National Rail Ultimate Family award.
We sat on a table with a family where the father had an accident and he now only has a memory of the last 2 weeks and has no long term memory although is cognitively able. He can’t recall being married, having children or anything of his family life and relies on thousands of photos to be re-told the story of his life.
The family were cheerfully resilient about the upsides such as being able to see films over and over again, and not be bored.
Still. It has reminded me that the person with no bicycle feels sorry for themselves until they meet the person with no shoes, who feels sorry for themselves, until they meet someone with no legs.
But I like to think we shared (as much as we can) the same cheerful resilience in the face of life challenges.
If you’d like to know more about Transport Sparks you can contact us through this blog, or at Twitter or through our Facebook page.
A thoughtful blog about how one autistic person (E Price) functions in a neurotypical world. It’s a 15 min read about various aspects of their life and gives a tiny glimpse into the compromises needed.
“I’m an Autistic person with a pretty put-together looking life. I always make rent. I have money socked away in savings and investments. I juggle several teaching jobs and do statistical and methodological consulting work. I sometimes find time to write. I have a social life. Except for the occasional noticeable chest crumbs, I present as clean and well-dressed. I manage my stress. I sleep. I eat.
I don’t think I strike the average person as disabled at all. I get work done on time. I show up to things I say I’ll show up to. I don’t show much distress in public. I rarely ask for help. Because psychological disorders are often viewed through a lens of impairment, people might call into question whether I am neuroatypical at all.
Viewing disabilities — and mental disorders — through a lens of impaired functioning is very flawed. The fact that I am functioning does not mean I’m not impaired, or that functioning is not hard. That I can survive, day by day, does not mean that I am thriving, or that my life is as easy as it is for a neurotypical person. And the aspects of my life that are impaired are rarely visible to an outside eye.
We often don’t see a person at their lowest moments — when they are crying and nonverbal, or engaging in self harm, or refusing to eat, or isolating from everyone they love. We can’t always tell if someone is struggling to make it through the work day, or if their sleep and exercise habits have been disrupted. And we don’t know, from the outside, what a person has been forced to sacrifice in order to live a seemingly “functional life”.
A lot of us “function” because we have to.
A lot of disabled or mentally ill people are able to work a job, pay rent, and get by through an elaborate system of compromise and sacrifice. We may have abandoned career paths that were too demanding of our mental energy, or lost relationships that were too socially or emotionally taxing. ...”
“Even with all the immense, unfair advantages that life has given me, life as a neuroatypical person is hard. There are many careers paths I could never successfully follow, and workplaces I could never inhabit. Frustratingly, this is not due to a lack of interest, motivation, or skill, but because I’m not good at existing in a milieu where small talk, meetings, ambient noise, and social politics are abundant.”
A thoughtful read check it out here from E Price.
“Everyone has sad patches. We need to accept who we are. We are All individuals, with some rainy days and some sunny days.”
That was part of my conversation with M. She walks the platforms at South Kenton and helps anyone feelingly poorly mentally and contemplating jumping.
Spike has taught me a lot about being mindful and happy in the moment; but also the stoic side of dealing with rainy days which have to happen.
One other tool I use is the “talk to everyone” technique. There’s a line of work which suggests that making human connections even small everyday ones gives us deeper meaning and contentment in our lives. It’s not necessarily always talking, but it is often through connecting at some level.
And it’s by saying hello to M on the platform that I learned her role and heard her wisdom.
If you'd like to feel inspired by commencement addresses and life lessons try: Neil Gaiman on making wonderful, fabulous, brilliant mistakes; or JK Rowling on the benefits of failure. and Sheryl Sandberg on grief, resilience and gratitude .
On Autism: some thoughts from non-verbal ASD Naoki Higashida and his book Reasons I Jump. My own twee Things I learnt from autism, such as, Everybody is Somebody's Wierdo. And below the last post on how one Mum doesn't use a high-functioning label any more.
"“So how autistic is your son, exactly?” “Well, his sensory processing is pretty cyan these days. Speech-wise, he’s light magenta. A nice canary yellow when it comes to motor control and memory functions, mind you. Thanks for asking.”"
I've referred to the David Mitchell piece (see here) previous in looking at his translation of Naoki Higashida's book. It's worth re-examining in more detail, if you haven't as it is insightful and genuine.
“If you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism.”
"So what are we still getting wrong about autism, and how do we get it right? My answers form a kind of wishlist. First up, is that we stop assuming a communicative impairment denotes a cognitive one. Let’s be wary of assuming that behind autism’s speechlessness lies nothing, or nothing to speak of. Instead, let’s assume that we’re dealing with a mind as keen as our own, and act accordingly. Talk to the person. Don’t worry if there’s no evidence he or she understands. Maybe there is evidence, but you’re not recognising it as such. If the person is there, never discuss them as if they’re not, or as if they’re only there like the coat stand is there. If they don’t notice this courtesy, no harm is done; but if they do, then someone who is often treated as a part-object, part-human, total nuisance gets to feel like a real, valid, card-carrying member of society."
What do I typically see when on a bus? I don't think I uses to SEE or observe much with any intensity or thought.
S observes certain detail intensely. A chime or rhythm slightly misplaced is logged as wierd, funny, wrong or amazing.
With easy portal photography, he can train that eye and snapshot it. The captured images give you a sense of the world through his lens.
It's a perspective so very different from mine. So very different from many "typicals" that it astonishes.
Every bus and train ride has 10 to 20 captured snapshots if S has his way.
Below are a sample from the last few.
Note the capture of signs, lettering and logos. People are incidental.
Patterns, colour and shapes.
What I take as granted as everyday is elevated to the most important.
I’m constantly learning. S has brought a unique dimension to this. I believe people who stop learning or experiencing novel events become unhappy.
Perhaps a skill we should learn at school, is how to make the most of what we have and what we can experience. I view this at the root of much mindfulness teaching, it goes back further to stoic thinking. I made a round-about post on this last year while waiting for buses and thinking about samurai quotes.
Our ability to re-purpose our moments meaningfully is important. The - perhaps fictional story - of the janitor telling the US President “I’m helping put a man on the moon” his job part of a wider more important calling. A cleaner in a hospital is saving lives on as regular basis as a junior doctor.
Experiencing unique moments. S shows me how to do a lot of this. I’ve trekked through ancient rainforests, accidently eaten the egg of a maleo bird and stayed with nomadic hunter gatherers in the Sulawesi jungle. Only a handful of people have experienced that.
Still, not many people have gone to Northwick Park, and stood on a footbridge to watch 8 different types of train go past. The experiences have more in common than you might think. You could approach this with a heavy heart and a mind of boredom. Hard to do when S remains so cheerful. Reminding you life is all around, new experiences are everywhere. I’ve never been to this footbridge before.
Instead I noticed the squelch of mud and the vigourous grass. I laughed at the train racing between the Bakerloo line train and the London Northwestern Railway trains. I watched in passing a scrappy game of football, mixed race, mixed gender, head scarfs and Nikes and hoodies all jumbled - I thought perhaps only in London on a cloudy winter day.
A reason to be hopeful - the wished for happy endings that Annie Proulx speaks about -
Naoki Higashida’s examination of his autistic world, its hopes and hazards; its joys and tears; its insights and confusions; Naoki sheds a profound and revelatory light on the autistic mind.
Required reading for autism workers and those interested in the area. Everyone really. These two books The Reason I Jump (which I blog about here) and Fall Down 7 Times Get Up 8 by Naoki Higashida trans David Mitchell & Keiko Yoshida.
"“Why can’t I speak? How come I’m the only one who can’t do it? How I used to agonise over these questions as I watched the other kids doing all kinds of things effortlessly that I’d never be able to manage, not even if I spent my entire life trying.
Every time, I just wanted to break down and cry. I stuck with my regular primary school until fifth grade –age eleven –but it had become so physically and mentally exhausting by that point that I transferred to a school for children with special needs.
My feelings about the move were ambivalent, and remain so. In one sense, it felt like I was running away and, once there, it took me a whole four years before I found a path to my authentic self. On the other hand, until then I had never observed a class in a special needs context and I was surprised by the big differences between classes there and the education I had been used to. While I was conflicted about the ‘special needs’ label, the kindness I encountered from both teachers and students –unthinkable at my previous school –took the edge off my unhappiness. There, I was no longer a ‘problem case’ but just a regular student. Some students were more capable than me while others had more severe challenges, and for the first time I realised how many neuro-atypical children existed in the world.
The school for children with special needs afforded me the freedom to be what I was, but it became less a place to receive an education and more a place to think about my autism. Time passed without my really doing a great deal. The classes were, in theory, tailored to each student’s disability profile, but in practice the teachers had enough on their hands just handling the students’ routine requirements. Some students were ‘long termers’ who had been there since first grade, while others, like me, had transferred in from regular schools because it was thought they were better suited to a school designed for special needs.
Looking back, most of my classmates seemed to enjoy their days at school without any complaints, but I still wonder if they all believed that this was the place they truly belonged? That said, my new school was a place where neuroatypical students were at least free from bullying or ignorant tellings-off. The school taught me the importance of being able to accept assistance and of being respected and valued by others.
I learned that we all have a right to live as a human being should live, and that happiness is attainable whether we have a disability or not. I saw a future path leading first to a high school for students with special needs (to which my new school was attached) and then to a work-centre for people with disabilities. I resolved to increase the range of things I could do without assistance, to work at becoming as independent as possible and, to the best of my ability, to avoid inconveniencing others. I thought that any aspirations outside this future were unrealistic because I was now where I belonged. I consigned any memories of my previous primary school to ancient history.”
There’s more from the BBC on it being book of the week here. There’s recent (July 2017) article from David Mitchell in the Guardian talkingabout autism and his wish list.
And I have written previously about Naoki’s first published book here.
There’s a point in the life of most parents of special needs children today that someone sends them, or they come across, the “Welcome to Holland” poem/story, by Emily Perl Kingsley (a sesame street writer, and mother of a Down Syndrome person). It’s a poignant / twee analogy comparing welcoming a disabled little line to a trip to Holland where you were attempting to go to Italy (see end for the piece).
It often divides SEN parents from those who find it on point, to those who... don’t. And those who flip-flop between. (I don't have a strong view, although if you've come here for thoughts on difference, my recommended reading is Far from the Tree by Andrew Solomon)
I suppose we all have expectations for our children. Hopes and dreams. Great expectations, perhaps.
Then the little person comes along. Has not read any of the manuals. Life is reset.
At some point, I think I would have thought it unlikely I would see S on stage, performing actions somewhat enjoying himself. Shouting out some lines.
Yet, this week, that's what I did see.
There is a line of thought suggesting that grief can not be shared. It is too personal, too unique. Yet, the desire to share grief, the want to connect, the ability to be present for someone - that desire to share grief, that can be shared.
There is no universal play about autism, as an ASD person is too unique. Yet, there are plays about the human condition, and all ASD people are human.
Life swings backwards and forwards, circles back, jumps forward; jigeddy-jag.
I don't think I could have easily forseen S on that stage, the flows of life are too complex. I think that's a reason to be hopeful - the wished for happy endings that Annie Proulx speaks about - and a good thought to be thankful for.
I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability - to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It's like this......
When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip - to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting.
After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland."
"Holland?!?" you say. "What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy."
But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland and there you must stay.
The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place.
So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.
It's just a different place. It's slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you've been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around.... and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills....and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.
But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy... and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say "Yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned."
And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away... because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss.
But... if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things ... about Holland.
“Spike spoke his first word with his hand. The sun had risen late and bright on a winter's day, its incendiary rays dissolving the darkness at the edges of the blind. I pulled a cord and the blind folded up on itself, and light flooded the room. Spike lay sleepy amongst the rumpled sheets of our bed. He squinted, raised his hand next to head and opened and closed his pudgy starfish fist. He had made the Makaton sign for "light". We were charmed by it, as all parents are by the child's first words. I don't think we gave any thought at all to the abstract nature of the concept he had chosen to communicate. Not "Mama". "Light".
read more at Anoushka’s blog here.
Had a good test of slow thinking (rationale thoughtful) brain vs fast thinking (emotional flight fight) brain this week.
S had to under go sedation to fix a tooth hole. His sensory sensitivity from his autistic traits made a traditional operation impossible though he tried very hard.
"Don't worry. I'm a resuscitation specialist!"
Strangely that's not the thought you want running through your mind.
I see a lot of the world through the lens of healthcare. Nothing is risk free.
Aspirin takes away headache pain with a chance of a stomach bleed.
Car helps you travel with a risk of a crash.
Living and loving makes you feel like nothing else does but with the inevitable pain of a loved one's death (which also makes you feel like nothing else).
A hole in a tooth would inevitably lead to infection and then quite possibly lead to severe illness or blood poisoning and death.
Sedation medication has a tiny chance of severe allergic shock or overdose that the need for a resuscitation specialist is so small as to be almost meaningless to calculate.
That's not what hits your brain first though when you think your child might die.
Our sense of risk if often inaccurate. It is tied up in our emotions. It is tied up in stories. It is tied up in the narratives we hear.
Even the language of risk we hear differently. We hear two out of three as a different risk to 66.6%.
We fear our children kidnapped on the streets. The stories we hear amplify that fear. And so today we believe our streets are less safe than before and our children lose the benefit of play and making decisions for themselves; and perhaps living free too. The loss is real. The risk fears are close to fantasy.
Yes. There are child gangs. But fewer than 100 years ago.
Yes. There are child groomers. But men and girls can still dance.
Yes. We still die. But life expectancy is at an all time high
... if we can but grab on to life and not fear.
Another personal piece in my thanks to Gideon. If you'd like to feel inspired by commencement addresses and life lessons try: Ursula K Le Guin on literature as an operating manual for life; Neil Gaiman on making wonderful, fabulous, brilliant mistakes; or Nassim Taleb's commencement address; or JK Rowling on the benefits of failure. Or Charlie Munger on always inverting.
An autist describes what he feels going through his head as he blurts out the wrong verbal phrase.
TROUBLE WITH TALKING
The other day, when it was time to say ‘Thank you very much’ to my helper for taking me out and bringing me safely home, the phrase that came out of my mouth was ‘Have a nice day!’ I’ve been working on these verbal set-pieces for ages and ages, but I still can’t master such simple exchanges. Talking is troublesome for me. I’d like to work through what was happening in my head when I made the mistake with my helper.
1) I wanted to say the correct thing to my helper. (In my head, ‘Thank you very much’ is stored in the ‘Everyday Phrases’ category.)
2) As soon as I tried to express my thanks, my mind went blank.
3) I floundered, having no idea what I needed to do next.
4) So I looked down, and saw the shoes my helper was wearing as he stood in the small entrance hall of our house …
5) … which reminded me of seeing my father’s shoes there earlier in the day in the very same place.
6) The scene of me saying ‘Have a nice day!’ to Dad flashed into my mind.
7) I remembered that I needed to say something to my helper …
8) … so I blurted out the phrase that was already in my head: ‘Have a nice day!’
Can you imagine a life where you’re confronted at every turn by this inability to communicate? I never know I’m saying the wrong thing until I hear myself saying it. Instantly I know I’ve slipped up, but the horse has already bolted and people are pointing out my error, or even laughing about it. Their pity, their resignation, or their sense of So he doesn’t even understand this! make me miserable. There’s nothing I can do but wallow in despondency. The best reaction to our mistakes will vary from person to person, and according to his or her age, but please remember: for people with autism, the pain of being unable to do what we’d like to is already hard to live with. Pain arising from other people’s reactions to our mistakes can break our hearts.
"A worthwhile existence lies in playing whatever cards life has dealt you as skilfully as you can."
From Naoki Higashida's book Fall Down 7 Times Get Up 8 (trans David Mitchell & Keiko Yoshida) giving you an insight in to the autistic mind.
A look at some of the answers from his first book here including video. Some thoughts from David Mitchell and the second book to make into EnglishA few thoughts from mein the business leadership style.
If you'd like to feel inspired by commencement addresses and life lessons try: Ursula K Le Guin on literature as an operating manual for life; Neil Gaiman on making wonderful, fabulous, brilliant mistakes; or Nassim Taleb's commencement address; or JK Rowling on the benefits of failure. Plus life tips from Matt Haig.
Short tips on waiting for buses. Practising the mindfulness of a samurai. Everyday Stoicism in action. A chance for galaxies to collide.
I'm firmly a public transport person. Through my son, I'd even venture to say I'm a reluctant enthusiast or a moderate fan, I've moved through the purely functional to where function meets form or more.
I've not learnt to drive. I've lived most of my life in London. Given London's Tube started in the 1850s I think the transport system has managed to play the cards it has been dealt. It's emphasis on design and art is stimulating if you pay attention; more simply a spot of sunshine on a regular heads down day.
Art on the Underground have commissioned some great works in the last 14 years. The labyrinth project (see pictures below) by artist Mark Wallinger has each station with have an enamel panel measuring 60cm by 60cm with a different labyrinth on it. All 270 are numbered them according to the route taken on the 2009 record breaking Tube Challenge.
‘Diamonds and Circles’ works ‘in situ’ is the first permanent public commission in the UK by the acclaimed French artist, Daniel Buren. The artwork transforms Tottenham Court Road station with Buren’s signature geometric patterns across the vast central ticket hall and multiple station entrances. Buren’s designs play with simple concepts; shapes, colours and stripes.
Still of late, I've done my fair share of waiting for buses and here are my tips.
So first the obvious... In London, TFL through the internet can give you a very good sense of when a bus is arriving. Google maps, citymapper and the like can also help.
If those are down, or you want to go old school, then you want to check how many people are waiting at the bus stop as you approach. More people the higher chance a bus is coming. A very large crowd might indicate a broken bus or another larger problem.
You might also want to check if walking on to another nearby stop might give you a larger variety of buses to choose from.
If it looks like a long wait and you want to walk on, you can do so but you need to mentally commit - maybe make it into a game. You need to commit in your head, because there is anguish if while walking, the bus you want passes you by.
You need to borrow from the samurai.
Due to the mental pain of the needed bus passing you, I suggest if in doubt just wait. If you end up waiting a long time, chances increase that many buses arrive together! Hope for the best, plan for the worst.
This is an occasion to practise stoic thinking and mindfulness.
Seneca wrote that about 2000 years ago. He was not thinking about waiting for buses. Given the amount of waiting I know do, and the complex patterns of transport (today only Night Tube train routes), I find I enjoy myself letting go to an autistic pattern not of my understanding. To do this, I need to relax from "an anxious dependence upon the future" and then the journey is often remarkable.
My last tip is to strike up a conversation. The two classic openers would be to ask how long they have been waiting or a comment about the weather. From there conversations could meander down any path. It does take two to dance, but an open mind and a strong lead can take you anywhere.
Bear in mind - everybody is somebody's weirdo. Trains are not conducive to random conversation. People feel too trapped to risk it. Unless "otherness" intervenes and cuts across our bubble. An autist in the zone of rail song will do this for a carriage. If you don't have such a company, then it can be tough to start conversation.
Bus stops are easier. There's more space. There's a slower pace. It's a great area for serendipity and conversation to strike. Don't ask why? Think why not?