Cities and NLD – I love NY!

Recently,  I read Stranger in a Strange Land in which Paul, a man with Asperger’s syndrome visits a big city (London) and finds it rather overwhelming. I live in another big city (New York) and I find it almost ideal for my disability. Why this difference?

Partly, of course, it’s what each of us is used to. Even neurotypical people are more comfortable with what they are used to! But there is more. If you want to know why he prefers Dorset to London, go read the article. As to why I love New York (and other big cities), read on:

1. I don’t drive. Not all cities have good mass transit (although both London and New York do) but rural areas almost never do.

2. In the part of New York City where I live the streets are laid on in a grid. Not only that, but the streets are numbered. 81, 82, 83 …. That I get! In rural areas, there are often a bewildering (to me) range of streets, avenues, ways, places, highways, routes and so on. And they all go higgledy-piggledy all over the place. And since nearly everyone is in a car, it’s hard to ask for directions.

3. Big cities usually have maps available, often quite detailed maps. I am good with maps (but lousy with directions). In a big city there are often people to ask for help.

4. Big cities tend to be less personal. For instance, if I get on a bus, I don’t have to remember if I know this bus driver (I don’t). I say “good morning” and put my metroCard in the slot. He says “good morning” or something and then I go into the bus. Even in NYC, I do run into people I know on the street, and I often don’t recognize them. This is embarrassing.

5. In big cities, nearly everything is available.

What do you prefer? Rural area, small town, suburbia or urban?



  1. Ashe Isadora says

    Hi Peter! I’m mildly NVLD (apparently) And I live in the wilds of rural Kansas. To me this is less stressful than the big city because there’s less noise and just stuff going on, and much less traffic.
    I’m with you on the people recognition thing! I’ve learned to avoid names when possible. Never thought of Valentine Smith as an Aspie btw, though I am a Heinlein fan.
    Love your blogs.

  2. When i visited New York i almost got run over by a taxi, because there was construction on the sidewalk in Manhattan.

    I don’t like all the rush of people – i don’t like crowds.

    I like nature and being able to look outside my window at the trees and falling snow right now. I like walking in the woods with my dogs.

    Of course if i didn’t have a car it would be impossible to live where i do. Though there are people who live in the village (i live 8 miles outside the village) who don’t have cars and / or don’t drive. So it’s possible but difficult.

    You’re right you can get everything in the city and there are many things we can’t get here. Also, as you said one good thing is if you get lost, you just stop someone and ask for directions. You walk one or two blocks, and if you’ve forgotten the directions, you stop someone else and like that until you get where you’re going (I’ve done this when i was in cities).

    The GPS helps a lot with finding places when i’m driving in my car.

    Probably if i could no longer drive i would move to Oswego, where i went to college. It is a small city – bigger than where i live now. It does have good bus transportation. It’s not so crowded as New York and i could still get to places on the perimeter where i could take a walk in nature. And i have friends there.

  3. To me this is less stressful than the big city because there’s less noise and just stuff going on, and much less traffic. – Exactly. Should have read the other comment before posting mine.

  4. Hi Ashe and Yvona, I guess part of my NLD is being able to ignore (or perhaps not even noticing!) the crowds and noise. Perhaps because I grew up here

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