Before I started reading about Asperger’s Syndrome, I had no idea what a special interest was, even though I’ve had them all of my life. A special interest, for those you who aren’t familiar with the term, is an “encompassing preoccupation with one or more stereotyped and restricted patterns of interest that is abnormal either in intensity or focus.”
In other words, an interest in a topic that is either very narrowly defined or very intense. If you’ve never spent time around someone with Asperger’s you might underestimate what those two phrases mean.
I wrote a post about special interests in general earlier this week. Not surprisingly, one of my current special interests is autism. Here’s a glimpse of what a special interest looks like in action for me:
- I spend 3-4 hours a day writing, reading, researching and thinking about Asperger’s Syndrome and autism. I’d spend more, but I have to work, eat, walk the dog, sleep, etc.
- My idea of a fun way to spend an evening is watching a DVD on occupational therapy for sensory dysfunction.
- I scribble notes for blog posts on scraps of paper at all hours of the day because I’m constantly relating things that I see, read, hear and experience back to ASD.
- There are 532 autism- and Asperger’s-related scientific articles saved in my Dropbox. There would be more but I only managed to get as far back as 2009 before I lost access to the PubMed and PsychoInfo databases when I graduated.
- Words like perseverative and motor planning deficit are part of my daily vocabulary.
- My browser has a bookmark list called “aspie links.” It has too many links to reasonably find anything so I’ve also created another bookmark list called “important aspie links.”
- Among the important bookmarks is one for the video of the latest meeting of the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee, in case I need to watch the chapter on the DSM-V updates again.
- My county library has 51 books and DVDs on Asperger’s and I’m reading/watching them in the order the library catalog lists them. I’m on number 17. When I finish that list, I’ll start on the list of 317 autism-related books/DVDs. In order.
- I have an autism-themed Twitter feed, tumblr, Facebook page, Triberr, newsfeed and blog plus accounts at Wrong Planet and Aspies Central.
- If you get me started talking about anything autism related, I guarantee you’ll lose interest long before I do. Unless you’re a fellow aspie with a special interest in autism . . .