Some kids with Autism never lose interest in their first loves. Ben's happened to be trains. He got so excited his third Christmas when Daddy spent money we didn't have on a train set. He loved Thomas the tank engine, cars, legos, anything mechanical in the coming years. Then, it was radios, cameras, turntables, the Beatles...but his interest in trains never waivered.
Since first grade, Ben has wanted to be an inventor. Since the fourth grade, he knew it would have something to do with redesigned steam-engines and high speed rail. Specifically, somehow hydrogen power is involved. I don't quite understand, and even though we were encouraged in pre-school to not feed Ben's narrow interests, we kind of ignored that advice.
When this all began, when Ben was labelled PDD-NOS at age 3, he was not considered "high functioning", but some other kids in his developmental preschool were. One's daddy was a fireman, another's uncle was a rocket scientist. (Temple Grandin refers to the rocket science division at NASA as a "sheltered workshop for the socially inept" or something on that order.)
I don't know what the future holds for Ben. I know that he contacted the museum where he has been volunteering and put in hundreds of hours working with trains, the big boys, the real things. They rented some cranes in order to move a couple of engines off flatcars onto track. Maybe it'd just me, but I think it's kinda cool!