Autism is My Special Interest

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.
  • 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 . . .

20 thoughts on “Autism is My Special Interest”

  1. Its funny, I can really relate to what you write. Its funny how we become obsessive things even if its the cause of the obsession. Thanks for sharing, im glad im not alone

  2. Yep, we seem to be quite similar. I won’t get tired of talking about ASD anytime soon, I doubt. I just made a post about this today. Though, sometimes my interests do fizzle. I might make that my next post. It’s an odd thing to have ownership of tons of info and whatnot and suddenly not be interested in it anymore.

    1. Yes, fizzling interests is frustrating. It’s hard to invest so much in something and then realize that the fire is no longer there. And it seems to be impossible to get it back once it’s gone.

  3. Hello! I’m kinda new around here and it’s only recenty that I’ve started to consider the possibility that I might well have the AS (acturaly I’m 99,99% sure, but well). I only understand now what those things I’ve been “passionnate” about for all those years are actually “special interests”. It’s been astrology at some point, more recently it’s been perfumes, gluten and food intolerances, dietetics, plants, and now the asperger syndrome too!… Yeah, to me it’s just “passions”… But, well, since I’ve been posting stuff about gluten so much lately, I guess a lot of my contacts may call this an “obsession”, indeed 😀
    Glad I found your blog 🙂

    1. Welcome! I’m glad you found my blog too.

      I know the feeling of going from maybe this is me to 99.99% sure pretty quickly. The more I read about Asperger’s the more I found explanations for so much of my life. I think whatever we call them, we’re blessed to have the gift of special interests. They make our life richer in a lot of ways. I’d be sad if mine disappeared entirely.

  4. Before all, I just wanted to read a bit of this blog to relax, then I found this topic. Watching a documentary about sensory dysfunction is totally my idea of a fun evening, in fact it’s exactly what i’m doing right now (reading Autism-related information in order to relax after an exam). I never through it was weird or too much to do that, but I guess it is. In fact, I’m so minded to neurologicals disorders that I choose to go in neuro-psychology at the university next years. Talk about obsession, nine years or so of studies just because I kinda find it interesting…

    But one thing I had never understood about those «special interest» are the limited number we’re supposed to have. I mean, I’m gathering informations about everything, getting really into almost all my classes, and can got all the way collecting information for almost any topic, as long it’s not math or Freud-related. When I was younger (in fact, it’s only three years ago), I was reading 300 books per years, if not more. Does that qualify for a special interest? Or does it mean I was just delaying my homework?
    (Sorry for asking stupids questions and posting a comment on a two month old topic again, i’m just trilled to find out I’m not the only Aspie who’s interested in ourselves!)

    1. I don’t think it’s weird! But it is . . . unusual? At least compared to the average person who relaxes by having a few beers, watching TV or chatting with a friend on the phone.

      I definitely think reading is both one of my special interests and one my favorite ways to gather information about other special interests. I’m a voracious reader too and can easily go through a few books a week.

  5. You should join pinetrest. they have a zillion and one boards about autism, sensory disorder, asperger syndrome, aspie, etc.
    I dont have a special interest and wish I did. used to be fascinated by treetops moving in the wind. i was hypnotized by it, animals too. i’d forget everything. it didnt take much to make me happy, but i still like these things, but i’m not totally absorbed by them anymore. i could be obsessed with marshal arts that i started learning, but had to drop out because of minor health reasons, ugh!
    special interest give your life meaning. but sometimes they can change and be replaced by another obsession.

    1. I hope you find a new special interest at some point. I always feel a little empty when one goes away.

      I have a Pinterest account but rarely use it because I find the whole concept so confusing. 🙂

      1. Ha! That’s so funny, I find it extremely confusing as well. Even though it *should* make sense, because it’s a visual organisation system! But it just doesn’t match up with my brain, I guess.

  6. Hello, I love reading your work, but have never replied because the posts are old. At least they are new to me! I have an interest in education (including theory, history, and child development). It is my major in university. I work really hard to prevent my focus from morphing into an obsession with Asperger’s until I have a solid enough base to look into Gifted Education or the like. (I graduate in a year, so I imagine grad school could be an option to let it run free.) I limit myself to a certain number of blogs per day and my “for fun” book may be about Asperger’s. I too have a bookmarks tab! Though, Pinterest has been my playground. I have thousands of pins organized just as my brain is. Pinterest taught me how to work on executive functioning before I knew what that was. I am trying to lessen my time spent there because it isn’t a priority right now. The degree is!! .

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