Dumbarton woman Anne McIntyre and her son, six-year-old Gabriel.
By Democrat reporter
The Boy Who Watched the Trains is a sound art, radio documentary blend, which gives the listener a rare insight into the private world of a mother’s journey, with her autistic son, who is engrossed and soothed by the sound and motion of the Glasgow Subway.
The mother who features in the documentary is Dumbarton woman Anne McIntyre, 43, who lives in the Woodlands area of Glasgow with her autistic son, Gabriel, who recently turned six.
She explains: “Gabriel is in primary 1 in St. Charles Primary school and LCR, in the Kelvinside area of Glasgow, and he is coping amazingly in mainstream education.
“St Charles is a fantastic school where everyone, including the janitor, has had some sort of autism training. However, every school has an environment which presents an overwhelming avalanche of sensory stimuli – lots of people moving around, the noise of speech, assembly in a large hall and so on.
“Therefore, the subway rides to and from school help him cope with this huge transition and sensory overload.”
She said: “I cannot stress enough how clever it is that Gabriel self-regulates himself by his connection with the Glasgow Subway sounds.
“Life isn’t easy as a mother of an autistic child, but Gabriel’s subway time is invaluable. Putting aside what is normal, I enter Gabriel’s world and share this sensory world with him.
“We do some learning too, as we sound out the subway stations and count the letters, syllables and words we see around us.”
Anne adds: “It is a daunting and isolating diagnosis process but it shouldn’t be. There is support out there; you just have to seek it out. Also, and most importantly, tap into what soothes and regulates your child.
“I don’t think Gabriel would cope as well as he does, if he didn’t have his daily double fix, of the all the Glasgow Subway offers him.
“And I don’t think I would have coped so well if I didn’t have other mothers, such as Marta, who were always there to listen and tell me things were going to be okay.
“I shun away from the whole ‘hash-tag autism’ thing because it is Gabriel’s diagnosis, not mine.
“He is only very recently beginning to understand that he is different and has autism.
“I am nervous and excited about this sound art piece. I didn’t realise it would include so much of me talking about autism.
“But art is eternal, and it is a beautiful way to capture and keep a memento of Gabriel’s very special relationship with trains – and guitars.
“If my personal story helps one family, who are on a similar journey, then that would be amazing.”
Readers who missed the opportunity to hear well-received sound art live transmission, by Glasgow-based artist Marta Adamowicz, and broadcast during Radiophrenia 2019, will have the unique opportunity to listen again this Saturday 8th June 2019 at the M Gallery, in Glasgow’s west end. Doors open at 6pm.
The broadcast starts at 6.30pm, but we advise attendees to arrive early, as the door to the venue will be shut for the duration of the sound piece. There will be a Q&A, with artist and subject, after the sound piece broadcast, which will start at 7.15pm.
Gabriel enjoys life on the Subway.
The Boy Who Watched the Trains is the first event in a new series of listening parties that the gallery has scheduled. It is a new, chilled way of experiencing music and sound art, in social settings. The gallery will invite one artist, each time, to play their recording, and have a discussion about it afterwards.
M Gallery launched in December 2018 and was the brain child of Marta (visual artist and sound artist of The Boy Who Watched the Trains) and Michele Gordon and Andrea Gute Marke of the renowned Language Hub, Glasgow.
The Hub is a social enterprise company which provides a vast array of language classes, children’s books, community projects, free events in the heart of Glasgow’s west end.
The Hub also serve good coffee and healthy and hearty food and the staff are always around to have a chat about what is going on in the community and the wider world. It is a very welcoming child-friendly space.
M Gallery is a new and exciting community art space which provides an exhibition space and a rich programme of workshops and events for all ages. It also aims to provide a parent-friendly programme of daytime and evening art and music events and workshops.
By installing a crèche/cot, in the working space, parents can participate in an ‘adult’ activity while keeping an eye on their child. M Gallery organise music and sound events, where the sound levels are adjusted to the requirements of tiny and neuro-diverse ears, while music choice can be appreciated by all ages.
M Gallery has a separate gallery space and a workshop/event area. They are currently looking for artists/musicians who are interested in running workshops or programming a music/art/sound art event. Please get in touch via their Facebook page if you want to get involved.
Further information about M Gallery can be found at: https://www.facebook.com/M-Gallery-Glasgow-372380116636632/ and Radiophrenia at: http://radiophrenia.scot/