MARTA brings the Autism Transit Project to Atlanta

Jonathan Trichter spent approximately 30 years of his career in the fields of investment banking, corporate restructuring, venture capital, and communications.

However, after his personal life was impacted by autism in 2019, he dedicated himself to opening special needs schools and various programs designed to assist children with neurological differences in New York, Connecticut, and the Pacific Northwest.

He said he’s since made it his life’s work to continue supporting these children.

Trichter said autistic children often exhibit behaviors including an intense focus on mechanical engineering, such as trains, and the sounds heard on subways.

For those with associated language disorders, their first complete sentence may frequently involve something along the lines of “Stand clear of the closing doors!”

That’s why in April of last year during Autism Awareness Month, Trichter came up with the concept of having autistic children from New York City record the typical public service announcements that play over New York’s transit system’s loudspeakers on train platforms.

This year, he expanded the program to four more cities including Atlanta.

WABE’s “All Things Considered” host Jim Burress joined seven-year-old Immanuel Stephens at Lindbergh Station to talk about trains and what autism means to him. (Matthew Pearson/WABE)

Seven-year-old Immanuel Stephens is one of the children who recorded a public service message for MARTA.

He’s been getting a lot of requests to talk about his experience, including on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” and he said it’s been a lot of fun.

He told WABE’s “All Things Considered” that trains are his favorite vehicle.

Immanuel and Lisa Stephens found out about the Autism Transit Project through the Marcus Autism Center. (Matthew Pearson/WABE)

“Why I like trains is because they’re so fast and they’re fun to ride on,” said Stephens.

The two met at MARTA’s Lindbergh Station, along with Stephens’ mother, Lisa, to talk about trains and to listen to some of Immanuel’s work.