Choo Choo Duck, Engineer
She achieved her dream job even with autism
Choo Choo Duck looked out the window of her engineer’s cab. A group of ducklings waved in excitement. They often gathered in the afternoon sun to watch her make her midday pass on her route through the town’s square.
The Engineer nodded back and gave a gentle toot of the whistle. Still, she kept her eyes locked on the track, always watchful for the safety of her cargo and passengers.
Without warning, some lights flashed on her control panel, the radio quacked to life, and a clanging started echoing from large bells on the poles at the crossing ahead.
Acting quickly, despite the sudden overload of noises and lights, Choo Choo Duck slowed her load and followed the directions to pause in a siding. Another train roared past, crossing ahead, and Choo Choo Duck heard over the radio that another engineer was experiencing a temporary brake outage due to overheating in the sweltering summer sun. Fortunately, the controller expected that train to slow long before it crossed paths with anyone else.
The passengers on Choo Choo’s train cheered to say “thank you,” which was a little noisy and overwhelming, but the quick-thinking engineer knew they meant well. When the coast was clear, she proceeded to maneuver the train out of the siding and back onto the main track. They got underway once more, and Choo Choo Duck got them back to the station only 3 minutes behind their expected arrival. She liked to run a precise schedule, but this small delay seemed quite acceptable after avoiding what could have been a catastrophe!
Choo Choo Duck had not always been so calm in tight situations. As someone who had been diagnosed with autism, Choo Choo had needed extra help with a few things growing up. She was smaller than some of the other ducks, and it seemed that the littlest duckling who also needed extra help was prone to being the one who “couldn’t” do things. Loud things were challenging, as were new places and new people. Sometimes, she felt left behind and cut out when challenges seemed too great.
The one place Choo Choo Duck seemed to always feel at home was the train yard.
Small but mighty, Choo Choo bonded with her brother Coalman and their father over their shared love of trains. Engines, cars, cabooses, turn tables, and more all captured their attention. In fact, when Choo Choo started some special therapy at a unique school, the care team planned a field trip to a rail yard for their group as a celebration of the classmates each achieving a milestone goal!
Choo Choo studied and practiced for years to master her craft and worked many jobs at the railroad before she was finally named to be the one that wore the special, coveted hat and drove the trains as The Engineer. She’d worried sometimes that her special needs would be an obstacle to achieving her dreams, but with the right support, faithful effort, and a little bit of luck, she’d done it!
Choo Choo Duck was the Little Duckling That Could!