“What?!” I hear you cry. “Special interests are the best thing ever!”
I totally agree! They’re so exciting and endlessly fascinating, aren’t they! They lift your mood so quickly, they’re the best!
“But you said you didn’t like them, in the title of this post, you wrote “I don’t like them.””
I’ll explain why shortly but first, there’s a few of things I’d like to clarify.
One, I’m not a “special interest or no interest” autistic. I have many interests that I personally would not classify as a special interest. Instead, they would be either a regular interest, or a passion. It’s totally cool if SIs and passions are the same thing to you, I’m only saying that they’re not for me.
Two, although I do get special interests, they don’t usually last all that long. I also spend long periods of time without a special interest.
And three, just to be completely clear, to be totally transparent, to be entirely invisible, I would like to say that it’s totally cool with me if you’re a “Special interest or no interest” person! It’s totally cool with me if you genuinely love your special interests! They’re so much fun and I’m glad they make you happy!
The thing with special interests for me though, is that they’re just so wonderful and exciting that they can border on being emotionally overwhelming, while simultaneously I can never get enough of them. I can’t get enough of them, so engaging with my SI is, though enjoyable, very unsatisfying because I just can’t get enough of it, I just can’t satisfy that craving. It almost feels like sensory underload, in it’s own way.
I’m pretty sure I infodump about my regular interests too, just not so intensely. Infodumping feels similar to me as having special interests – it’s fun, but I don’t like doing it either, because reasons:
One: “Is that when you talk loudly and really fast and it’s actually kind of scary?” – Actual quote from my friend when I first told them I was going for a diagnosis, and I mentioned I wasn’t sure if I infodumped at all.
Two: This is kind of a societal thing, but oftentimes other people aren’t interested. I’m not always too bad at picking up basic social cues, but I can’t do it at all when I’m infodumping. Also, it’s embarrassing for me. It’s embarrassing for me that my volume rises and it’s embarrassing that I have no idea if they’re interested or trying to politely get away or change topic. Kind of related is how I use my special interest to understand everything in the world around me, it’s the filter through which I see the world; which means in conversation it’s very difficult to not bring it up. Constantly. And usually, people don’t understand the references I make.
Infodumping was especially awkward when I was speccing in the Law of One transcipts (opens in new window) (Feel free to not follow the link, as it discusses metaphysical / spiritual / religious stuff; it’s long and difficult to read/process much at once) and I probably made other people feel like I was trying to force my religious / spiritual beliefs on them. I wasn’t, I just wanted them to understand how fascinating and interesting the transcripts and the info they contained were.
And three: Talking is hard for me. I want to make a more in-depth post about this at some point in time, but for now, there’s a block in my throat to get past every time I wish to start speaking. Talking and thinking compete for cognitive resources, so I can’t do both at the same time. I can speak a couple of sentences and know what I’m saying, especially if it’s scripted, but beyond that I start thinking distantly in concepts and somehow my subconscious turns those into mouthwords, while my mind bounces from concept A to B&C simultaneously, and I don’t really know if I’m talking about B or C right now and did I talk about both or did I skip one and go straight to E? I never know if I’ve made the point I wanted to or if I’m linking the concepts together adequately because by this time I’ve forgotten what I’ve just been saying and I don’t know what I’m actually saying as I’m saying it, am I making any sense at all? Do they understand a damn thing of what I’ve said? I have no idea.
I’m articulate enough that people can’t tell, or so I’ve been told by the few people I’ve mentioned this particular quirk of mine to. I don’t know how.
Because my special interest is all I want to think about and do, it can be detrimental to my other interests and hobbies (and my sleep). Right now, I’m interested in (but not obsessed with) learning Astrology (not astronomy the science, astrology the metaphysical), and I try to do research once a week, along with researching another crystal weekly. I’m passionate about nutrition and herbs; health-wise, magical-wise, practical uses, culinary uses, growing them (I like plants as a whole). When I have a special interest, I’m likely to skip doing that research in favour of watching or researching or just thinking about some damn (good) show I’m obsessed with.
I’m a tribal belly dancer with a troupe. When I have a special interest, I get tempted to not go to classes. I do go, but the temptation is there. It’s so much harder to pay attention and improve and learn and think of things I don’t understand about a new move or formation that I should ask about when all my brain wants to think about is my SI. We’re a new troupe, but I worry that in the future, my special interests could be detrimental to my dancemates, that they could contribute to me holding us all back a bit.
There’s more negatives than positives when it comes to special interests and me, the positives being how happy they do make me…. and that’s about it. I don’t need them, I don’t feel empty without them, I’m content when I don’t have them.
They’re not important to me, except for when I have them.