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.
For the Fall 2022 semester:
2nd graders meet online at 4:15 PM ET on Tuesdays via the Zoom platform.
3rd graders will either meet online at 4:15 on Tuesdays via the Zoom platform or will meet in person at 4:30 on Thursdays at the Transit Museum in Downtown Brooklyn. We continue to gauge interest in both online and in-person programming.
4th & 5th graders meet in person at 4:30 PM on Thursdays at the Transit Museum in Downtown Brooklyn.
How to Apply
Applications for the Spring 2023 semester will open in January.
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 graders:
The online screening for 2nd-3rd graders will be after school via Zoom (Date TBD). Group sizes are small, and space is limited. The online program costs $200 for the semester for accepted students. Limited partial scholarships are available.
Information for 3rd graders:
We continue to gauge interest in both online and in-person programming. Therefore, we are using your application as input to plan for the fall semester and determine if we will provide online or in-person Subway Sleuths for 3rd graders.
The online screening for 3rd graders will be after school via Zoom (Date TBD). The online program costs $200 for the semester for accepted students. Limited partial scholarships are available.
The in-person screening for 3rd graders will be after school at the Transit Museum (Date TBD). 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 after school at the Transit Museum (Date TBD). 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.
Face masks are required inside the Transit Museum at all times for this program.
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
1 in 68 children, and 1 in 42 boys, have Autism Spectrum Disorder, or “ASD.”
100% of Subway Sleuth parents reported that the program met or exceeded their expectations.
48% of Subway Sleuths received scholarships for the program.
22% of Subway Sleuths return for a second semester.
“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 with the Sleuths or program directors, 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.