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Do you like the term "special interest"
Yes 71%  71%  [ 17 ]
No 25%  25%  [ 6 ]
Special what?...never heard about it. 4%  4%  [ 1 ]
Total votes : 24

ToughDiamond
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11 Jun 2021, 8:35 am

(.....continued)
The matter came up when somebody I know was being diagnosed for ASD, and after a bit of searching on the Web we figured a useful question was whether or not the interest seemed eccentric compared with the usual range of interests to be found in mainstream individuals. "Eccentric" seemed a helpful concept at the time, because it gave us another diagnostic touchstone, but I admit it's probably no more objective than the others - just that if you apply a number of subjective touchstones and most of them give you a sense of "yes," then maybe that's a more valid conclusion than applying just one touchstone. Though you still won't be 100% sure.

But I wouldn't worry too much about the uncertainty of the label. If an interest is intense enough to mess up your life, then that's the problem, and what you call it is probably less important than looking for a solution to the thing that's messing up your life.
(sorry about the split post - Cloudflare won't let me post it all as one post, because Cloudflare is stupid and thinks I could be a hacker. It's high time they ditched it)



PhosphorusDecree
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11 Jun 2021, 2:43 pm

Dandansson wrote:
PhosphorusDecree wrote:
It makes sense to me as an informal way to describe the intensity of focus I get on something the rest of the world couldn't care less about. Those of my special interests that involve actively doing stuff have involved a lot of frustration, but are also more rewarding long-term than the ones where I just passively absorb information.

you like the term since it is a positive term?
What kind of frustration are you talking about?
With my interest the social aspects have been difficult. Teachers weren't exactly easy to deal with. They often gave me to difficult tasks/exercices when I had difficulties with the basics. I also had problems learning the basics. When I could not even sing Twinkle twinkle little star (I am a musician) correctly I got really frustrated like if I were a very young child. I never grew out of my childishness.


It just fits with my experience well enough. Maybe the positive spin the word "interest" puts on it helps me experience them as less dysfunctional than if I called them "obsessions"? Not sure.

When my "special interest" in "Doctor Who" is to the fore, there's not much cause for frustration. I re-watch episodes from the Doctor Who half of my DVD collection, read wikis, track down obscure spin-off novels and generally have thoughts about the show running through my head at quiet moments. I stay out of fan forums as they can get unpleasantly flamewar-ey. So far it hasn't caused me any problems.

My main, more "active" interest is making music, like you. I am very, very strongly motivated to create music, to the point where it's one of my main reasons for living. I had a very painful period of several years when I was basically stuck. I couldn't figure out how to learn the things I needed to learn to get my music to sound the way I wanted. And I was surrounded by people who seemed to be pressuring me to work in styles that didn't suit my tastes and abilities at all. This lead to a lot of self-doubt. But when I do succeed in creating something that sounds good, that's a far more rewarding feeling than I could ever get just from re-watching Doctor Who.


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dragonsanddemons
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11 Jun 2021, 4:08 pm

I don’t think I actually said so earlier, I typically only use “obsession” for myself. “Special interest” is my default to try to avoid wording/connotation debates. If I see/hear someone else use a different term, I use that for them. Like most things about autism, I know the particulars (intensity, interference (or not) with everyday life, etc.) can vary widely, and I try to word things carefully so I am only talking about what things are like for me. I also do not discount the possibility that it may at least be compounded by something else in my case, not necessarily purely due to my autism.


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Juliette
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11 Jun 2021, 5:27 pm

I have no problem with calling it “special interests”, though I’m more likely to say “My interests/hobbies include .....”

They are certainly intense interests though, that’s for certain!



CinderashAutomaton
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11 Jun 2021, 8:29 pm

To me it's just a general term that encompasses everything that isn't a non-interest or a casual/common interest (like food, good sleep or a friendly interaction).

Well, it can also be a euphamism for a romantic interest or NSFW stuff.

But context is key. Common lingual culture is filled with tons of generalities, and to a degree, context can be more important than specific word choice. There are hundreds if not thousands of different ways to say the same thing, or at least, accomplish the goal of that specific instance of communication to an acceptable degree.

Perhaps the negative feelings that arise come from sense of condescention when 'special' is used in other avenues, like when some people use 'special' as a derogatory euphimism for 'mentally challenged'. I've experienced such associations myself with different words, and witnessed it in plenty of other people for various words and terms.

Maybe it could also just be a sense of dissatisfaction you get from having a richer understanding in the breadth of types of interest and their unique distinctions, which contrasts with the persons simple, generalistic reference of 'interests'. I've experienced this, too, and still do pretty frequently. I have to constantly remind myself to chill and try to keep my comments at a level the other person can deal with (unless, of course, the matter is truly important).


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HeroOfHyrule
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12 Jun 2021, 9:55 am

I use the term "special interest" and don't have an issue with it. I am also obsessive over my special interests, and they can be relatively narrow/abnormal.


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IsabellaLinton
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12 Jun 2021, 10:32 am

Yes I use the term Special Interest but fixation or obsession are good too. I have lifelong ones that never change, although the degree of intensity fluctuates. Then I have short-term ones that can keep me going for 24-48 hours without rest or food. I think some of my hyperfocus is related to ADHD as well, because my brain is always craving input.

I have a quick question that's kind of on topic. Does anyone else feel physically ill after a long period of intense mental hyperfocus on your special interest? Usually when I've been focussed on a special interest for several hours, tuning out the world, it makes me feel sick to reintegrate back into the real world. I feel seasick and off balance. I bump into walls (more than normal lol), I can get bedspins or shake, and I need to curl in a ball for several hours to regulate my senses. I think perhaps my senses are shut down via tunnel vision and then all the sensory input comes back and overwhelms me. Maybe it's adrenaline. I really don't know.

I hope that's not a derail. I'm just curious if anyone else gets this illness?



Nonsense
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12 Jun 2021, 11:00 am

I don't feel there's anything special in my interests. Maybe they would be from the perspective of another person but why should I care about that.



CinderashAutomaton
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12 Jun 2021, 11:10 am

IsabellaLinton wrote:
I have a quick question that's kind of on topic. Does anyone else feel physically ill after a long period of intense mental hyperfocus on your special interest? Usually when I've been focussed on a special interest for several hours, tuning out the world, it makes me feel sick to reintegrate back into the real world. I feel seasick and off balance. I bump into walls (more than normal lol), I can get bedspins or shake, and I need to curl in a ball for several hours to regulate my senses. I think perhaps my senses are shut down via tunnel vision and then all the sensory input comes back and overwhelms me. Maybe it's adrenaline. I really don't know.

I hope that's not a derail. I'm just curious if anyone else gets this illness?


Occasionally. It's usually because on those occasions I ignore my body's needs, like eating, drinking, going to the washroom or resting. Vast majority of the time it doesn't happen, though. Usually my mental health isn't doing so good, precipitating a bad decision while my brain is occupied with latching onto a not-bad feeling.

Hmm, although there certainly is a short period of reintegrating with my senses after zoning into something, usually. It's very mild and takes a few minutes at most.

Perhaps this is a good topic for a new post. It's related but not on topic for this current post.


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IsabellaLinton
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12 Jun 2021, 11:34 am

CinderashAutomaton wrote:
IsabellaLinton wrote:
I have a quick question that's kind of on topic. Does anyone else feel physically ill after a long period of intense mental hyperfocus on your special interest? Usually when I've been focussed on a special interest for several hours, tuning out the world, it makes me feel sick to reintegrate back into the real world. I feel seasick and off balance. I bump into walls (more than normal lol), I can get bedspins or shake, and I need to curl in a ball for several hours to regulate my senses. I think perhaps my senses are shut down via tunnel vision and then all the sensory input comes back and overwhelms me. Maybe it's adrenaline. I really don't know.

I hope that's not a derail. I'm just curious if anyone else gets this illness?


Occasionally. It's usually because on those occasions I ignore my body's needs, like eating, drinking, going to the washroom or resting. Vast majority of the time it doesn't happen, though. Usually my mental health isn't doing so good, precipitating a bad decision while my brain is occupied with latching onto a not-bad feeling.

Hmm, although there certainly is a short period of reintegrating with my senses after zoning into something, usually. It's very mild and takes a few minutes at most.

Perhaps this is a good topic for a new post. It's related but not on topic for this current post.


Thank you! I started a new thread.



simonthesly74
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13 Jun 2021, 8:23 am

I think the term “special interest” is fine as it indicates that our interests are different than those of neurotypicals. Our interests are special because of their intensity and not because they are inherently unique on their own or anything.
I think one could argue that intense “interest”, “fixation”, or even “obsession” would be a more accurate describer of how our interests work. But I think “special interest” is still fine for now.