Subway Sleuths is a 10-week after-school program at the New York Transit Museum that builds on a shared interest in trains among students on the autism spectrum. Subway Sleuths supports peer-to-peer interaction, provides a context for navigating social situations, and develops students’ confidence by affirming their interest in public transit. Using a strength-based approach, participants explore the Transit Museum’s content and collection, sharing their enthusiasm with others while engaging in transit-themed games and activities. Each session provides opportunities for group collaboration and different forms of social engagement.
Ten weekly sessions are facilitated by Transit Museum Educators and contracted professionals trained in ASD support.
2nd & 3rd graders meet in person at 4:30 PM on Thursdays at the Transit Museum in Downtown Brooklyn. We are currently not accepting applications for 2nd & 3rd graders.
4th & 5th graders meet in person at 4:30 PM on Thursdays or at 9:30 AM on Saturdays at the Transit Museum in Downtown Brooklyn. For students accepted into the program, the first regular Thursday session will be February 29th, and the first regular Saturday session will be March 2nd.
How to Apply
Applications for the Spring 2024 semester closed on January 24th.
All interested candidates must submit an application. Candidates are screened to ensure that the accepted children show similar social and communication profiles and have a strong interest in transit.
Information for 2nd & 3rd graders:
Group sizes are small, and space is limited. The in-person program costs $350 for the semester for accepted students. Limited partial scholarships are available.
Information for 4th & 5th graders:
The in-person screening for 4th-5th graders will be on the morning of Saturday, February 3rd and after school on Thursday, February 8th. Group sizes are small, and space is limited. The in-person program costs $350 for the semester for accepted students. Limited partial scholarships are available.
Making Connections Through Transit
“People with autism show a fascination with transport systems because they can readily be ‘systemised’, either as a mechanical system or as a timetable system. People with autism have a mind that loves to systemise, that is, to detect regular patterns in the environment…. Subway Sleuths thus provides a terrific opportunity to tap into a strong interest in autism to help them learn and socialise in an autism-friendly context.”
– Dr. Simon Baron-Cohen, Professor of Developmental Psychopathology, University of Cambridge and Director, Autism Research Centre
Since its creation twelve years ago, the Subway Sleuths program has welcomed almost 200 school children. With each session, the number of Sleuths success stories grows.
1 in 44 children have Autism Spectrum Disorder, or “ASD.”
100% of Subway Sleuth parents reported that the program met or exceeded their expectations.
31% of Subway Sleuths received scholarships for the program over the last 5 years.
“Subway Sleuths is a wonderful program for kids on the spectrum. Because of this program my son has gained social skills which he would not otherwise have gained in school. He is able to connect with his peers in and outside of school and is more confident in communicating with others. I strongly recommend this program to parents who are looking for alternative and affordable programs for a child on the spectrum.”
– Zena Moore, Subway Sleuth Parent
The Transit Museum has developed resources to help visitors with autism and other developmental disabilities plan a successful visit to the Museum. These resources can be used by parents and educators and can serve as examples for other institutions hoping to improve their own accessibility. For more information, please email our Special Education and Access Manager.
On May 1, 2017, the New York Transit Museum hosted a forum to explore how to design positive and impactful programs for people living with autism spectrum disorder. The symposium sought to provide information and resources to help guests with autism and/or other developmental disabilities successfully engage with Arts & Culture at the Transit Museum and beyond. Each presentation was videotaped and footage from the symposium is now available for all.
To request more information, images and video footage, or interviews about the Sleuths program, please email the Transit Museum Press Office.
Funding for access programs is provided by the Taft Foundation, the FAR Fund, the Lemberg Foundation, and generous individual donors.