One of the aspects of autism that has characterised my life more than any other is that of special interests. To the neurotypical person these can often be seen as obsessions. As a young teenager these were often associated around people e.g. my history teacher, George Michael and Chris de Burgh. As an adult they have been more focussed around hobbies although a couple of people have crept in.
When in a special interest I find it difficult to think or talk about anything else. This may seem like a bad thing but I have achieved so much because of this. In the space of a couple of years I reached Grade 4 standard on the piano and only stopped because my teacher retired. I taught myself the art of reborning (making realistic baby dolls) and now I am able to sell my creations. My weight loss journey initially began as special interest but has now become a more normal part of my life.
My husband David is the same and we have learned together that we need to make time for our separate interests as they are an integral part of who we are. We have designated our Saturdays as hobby days; David will go off and do his machining and I will either do some reborning or watch documentaries on my current subject of interest which World War II at the moment.
The feelings attached to having a special interest can be really intense and can bring a lot of happiness. I often feel sorry that neurotypical people don’t get to have the same experience. If there is an upside to being on the spectrum then special interests is it.
6 thoughts on “Autism and special interests……..”
Actually, there is nothing “special” about your interests. That is one of the ways in which what autistic people do can be defined as dysfunctional or a disability. You didn’t mention a single one that isn’t pursued by NTs, and called “hobbies.” Unless you actually want to feel that your hobbies make you special in some way, why let yourself be defined that way? Your interests are perfectly normal.
While I agree that neurotypical people can pursue the same interests it is the intensity that makes them different for people with autism. I have no desire to label myself as special in any way I merely wanted to point out that there are some positives to being autistic.
I really have to disagree that the difference is intensity. I think it’s rare for most people to pursue any interest with great intensity, for any length of time. But there are plenty who do — collectors who focus on one interest for a lifetime. Many experts in various fields are experts because they devote themselves to their interest in depth and over long time periods of time.
Also, every time this subject comes up, I wonder where the proof is. It’s like so many claims about the differences between autists and NTs When they’re finally examined closely, they turn out to have little or no basis. But they are usually negative when they concern people on the spectrum, and contribute to the misunderstandings and stereotypes.
(Don’t mean to preach, really, but sometimes these things get under my skin. Don’t publish this comment if you don’t want to. I’m fine with that.)
I think we’ll just agree to disagree here x
I like it that you’re sharing the positive aspects of your experience. Of course, everyone loves their hobbies, but some people (like me) just dabble in various things they enjoy, whereas others strive hard to master specific things. I admire people like that, whoever they are!
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