Do women really have more normal looking special interests?

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underwater
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20 Dec 2017, 9:51 am

Most of my interests were normal but abnormally intense. Some were unusual. Often it was the way I went about the interests that was unusual.

Some autistic women have more unusual interestst.

It really depends. The only important thing here is the recognition by professionals that a person doesn't have to have very unusual interests to be autistic.


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20 Dec 2017, 7:15 pm

The first special interest I had that caused concern for people was Led Zeppelin. By the age of 9 I had an encyclopedic knowledge about them. I could list all the albums, songs on the albums, how long each song lasted, where it was recorded, all the venues they had played and the play list from each show if I could find it. I also could recite detailed biographical information on each member. No trivial fact was too small! The only thing I wanted to talk about was Zeppelin. The first thing I did when I got out of bed in the morning was put on a Zeppelin album. I fell asleep listening to Zeppelin. If I wasn't allowed to listen to Zeppelin I dissolved into tears, locked myself in the bathroom and banged my head on the wall. I refused to go on school camp because I wouldn't be able to listen to Zeppelin. I was a complete Zeppelin bore.

My teacher felt my obsession wasn't normal and my Mother became worried enough that she took me to a child psychiatrist. Back then, only Kanner type autism was recognised. I didn't have that so my behaviour wasn't seen as autistic. The psychiatrist was nice though. He asked her if she would be so concerned if it was Mozart instead of Zeppelin. She had to admit she wouldn't so after that she stopped worrying about my obsession and one day it just stopped like someone had flicked a switch.

So while an intense interest in a band isn't unusual for girls, the level of intensity was and my behaviour if I couldn't persue my interest was.


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peregrina
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30 Dec 2017, 8:58 pm

Honestly, I don't know what normal-looking special interests are, but from my observation, maybe, girls are expected to like fairy and girly things, e.g. dolls, cuddly stuffed toys, etc.

My main interests in childhood through to adulthood are: reading (=acquiring knowledge on the subjects of interests); drawing and painting nature. At some point, I liked collecting rocks, minerals and meteorites. I sat in on geology classes when I was a university student. I have stopped collecting now because I have no space to keep them.

As for obsession, I remember an abnormal intensity of a particular obsession during my teen years. I admired a film-score composer (yeah right, while other girls were swooning over pop stars). This is not normal, right? Whenever my dad took me to music stores, I would look at soundtracks. I did not look anywhere else because I collected as many of his past albums as I could find. I listened to his music every day. I knew his bio and works by heart (similar to those who memorize train timetables) and could recognise his music from few seconds of listening (and identify what movie). The obsession lasted for two years. It did not go away completely, though, it was not intense anymore. I became obsessed with study instead. Somehow, I occasionally looked whether he had produced new albums and what movie he was working on. I bought his last album in 2015. Last one, because he suddenly passed away. Anyone may know whom I am talking about.

The studies suggest that girls are more likely to have people rather than objects as their interests. Maybe, in my case (and some others'), it's ture.



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02 Jan 2018, 4:37 am

Not really. As a kid I was obsessed with street lights, road warning signs and drains.

As an adult, I’m less inclined to openly be a weirdo, but I obsess over piles of rubbish and leaves in the street due to the prospect of finding lost bank notes in there. Maybe I am just super observant.



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20 Jan 2018, 9:28 am

I don’t know what is considered a “normal” special interest... Personally, I have had many typical interests as a child (like Barbie dolls and tv programs) but I also liked some weirder stuff (like reading my mother’s books on pregnancy, early child development and parenting when I was still in elementary school). As a teen my most “typical” interest was the Harry Potter books, but I was also obsessed with the history of the Holocaust. As a young adult, those interests were replaced by Game of Thrones and ASD. So I guess I have both normal looking and odd interests.


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CloudClimber
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20 Jan 2018, 9:47 am

I never have and still do not follow the feminine stereotypical traits. I was called a tom boy as a kid; now I’m just called weird. :lol: If having ASD isn’t bad enough, having more typically masculine traits confuses people even more :? I haven’t had any very intense interests though.



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20 Jan 2018, 10:07 am

It's one of the very few particular 'Aspie Women' traits that actually applies to me.

My lifelong special interest is crafting -- very versatile and transferable, appropriate in all ages, do have a knack for it and a business potential.
No matter how much I obsess with it, it doesn't seem odd to others. Mostly, they thought it's just a really good hobby of mine. :lol: At worst, they'd end up with a different conclusion that is business.


Most of my special interests as a child aren't very unusual at all for a child, really. The main unusual part is how I express it -- I'm not very open with my special interests. Almost never been vocal about it except on how I like it -- because I prefer thinking about it and doing it instead of talking about it.
Other notable part is that, save my very own lifelong special interest, most of my special interests aren't very gender-specific.


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Kiryoku1428
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28 Jan 2018, 12:04 am

Well, none of these posts say anything unusual to me :)

One of the things I kept wondering about with Asperger's/HFA is the "special interests" category. What counts as special? How intense is intense?

I grew up in a small town in Colorado. It wasn't unusual for an kid, male or female, to love nature-based activities or study natural history. To my understanding, it's not unusual in the process of growing up to love a genre of music or a handful of bands (I loved soundtracks because I could imagine fresh story lines following the mood of the music. I could turn off the lights, close the curtains, blare the music, and immerse myself in my imagination.).

To me, it wasn't unusual for kids to love sciences and art. It's post-puberty when you're expected to become a generic teen/adult or man/woman. After my peers hit puberty they stopped studying zoology and ecology with me, stopped writing fantasy adventures, stopped plotting epic careers that would let us live out those interests as much as reality would permit like becoming field biologists traveling to exotic landscapes.

To this day I obsess over studying certain natural sciences, some social sciences, nature art, watching Let's Plays on YouTube of people playing survival horror or story-based fantasy/sci-fi video games, watching gymnastics (and trying to learn all the rules and moves), photography, daydreaming fantasy stories, and animals. Only now it's "unusual" and I'm not "living in the real world" or "participating in society". What am I supposed to do in my spare time as an adult? Why didn't I get the memo? That's all alright, I don't care. I like my things :D



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28 Jan 2018, 2:41 am

I have had some distinctly unfeminine special interests.

In high school I was totally obsessed with Tolkien's works. For a couple years I went around always carrying one of his books with me. I reread all of the ones I could get my hands on, so much that they started to fall apart. I got made fun of a lot for that, though in my senior year somehow I became pretty popular.

Playing music has been one of my special interests for a long time, and I even have gotten into sub-fields of that, such as guitar modification and guitar building. I've defretted countless bass and guitar necks, and even painstakingly removed fret lines (so the fingerboard looks totally blank) and applied coatings of extremely hard and durable materials, one drop at a time, until they form a hard protective coat over a fretless fingerboard, polished to a mirror finish. Something you'd have to pay $400-700+ for at a luthier, I would do in my garage for fun. I could go on and on and on all about doing stuff like that.

I've also gotten deeply obsessed with many genres of music and bands. Some feminine, some very unfeminine. I've been deeply into jazz music, but in high school I had a very cringey time where I was really into death metal and black metal.

The obsessions with specific musicians and groups usually happens after I start learning some of their songs.

For a time I had an obsession with firearms, years ago, after I turned 21 and could buy them. The people I lived with got me into that - I was in a small rural village of 700 people and there wasn't much to do (I didn't even have internet access), and after shooting with the people I lived with, I was hooked. After that I got way into firearms. I used to carry one every day, concealed, and I would read about them for hours. Carrying them made me feel safer, back then. I obsessed about specific models, the ways in which they function, etc. I absorbed information about many different makes and models, even different years/production runs of specific models, etc. I still know loads about guns. I used to own many of them, but I've since gotten rid of them all. It is a weird thing - a lot of my trauma involves guns, and I can't bring myself to even touch one anymore. Seeing them is triggering, no pun intended. Guns make me feel really uneasy, and yet I still have encyclopedic knowledge about a whole lot of them.

That said though I've also had some pretty girly special interests over the years.



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29 Jan 2018, 8:59 am

As a kid I very much liked Lego and learning about bus and train routes and how buses and trains worked :P As an adult I'm not as interested in forms of public transport but I still retain all the information I learned from researching as a kid. Right now I'm very into animation and studying dinosaurs! I have many dinosaur books, teddies and figures :mrgreen:

I think special interests will always greatly vary from person to person, and I'd say women on the spectrum can have just as diverse and out there interests. The special interest trait in Autism, I think, can really be a gift. :)


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fluffysaurus
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29 Jan 2018, 10:13 am

Miss_Skitty wrote:
I think special interests will always greatly vary from person to person, and I'd say women on the spectrum can have just as diverse and out there interests. The special interest trait in Autism, I think, can really be a gift. :)

I agree :D



kraftiekortie
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29 Jan 2018, 10:18 am

If one is not interested in "specifically feminine" interests, it does not equate to that person being "unfeminine."

I don't find an interest Tolkien particularly "masculine." In fact, as a kid, I thought literature was something that "girls" liked.

And what is "masculine," or "unfeminine" about playing music?

Both men and women can have "gender-neutral" interests, too.

Come to think of it, most "interests" are probably "gender-neutral."



Last edited by kraftiekortie on 29 Jan 2018, 11:00 am, edited 1 time in total.

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29 Jan 2018, 10:32 am

^While I've never been thought to have typically female interests, they are not typically male interests either. I was tomboyish for a girl but I'm sure I would have been called sissyish if I'd been a boy. I've always found it easiest to find what suits me in things that are not gender divided such as book shops and hardest in things that are very gender divided such as cloths shops.
When I was was a kid the adverts on telly for kids stuff were unisex, we seem to have gone backwards just because most girls did naturally prefer the traditional girls things and boys the traditional boys toys, I don't think they're wrong to like those things, but I do think the unisex attitude meant kids chose for themselves.



Kiryoku1428
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29 Jan 2018, 1:49 pm

Miss_Skitty wrote:
As a kid I very much liked Lego and learning about bus and train routes and how buses and trains worked :P


That reminds me as a kid how much I loved architecture. I obsessed over designing dream homes and properties, watched a Re/max real estate channel (it was all we had when my family moved and didn't have cable). I would get good at predicting how expensive a house and property with certain traits would be, including based on their location. Then I would design my own places, decide where they would be, and predict their price. Presented some of these to my parents to check my work :lol: . This went on for years.

Also for years I would design my high school and university programs. Sometimes based on the existing local high school's design (and I would pick my electives, etc.) other times I would create what I thought was the best curriculum. I started this in 4th grade. I didn't slow down until a year after I graduated college, but I still fantasize about better program options and pretend "what if" I went to so-and-so college and took this program, what electives would I take and when?

I also played with globes, atlases, and spreadsheets. I imagined myself and a group of friends all specializing in a different -ology. I would calculate and research the logistics in expeditions all over the world. I also created a narrative, deciding at what point in our lives we would go certain places, what adventures we had on the side of the job, and what our lives were like between expeditions. I calculated salaries, rent, and utilities. I'm not sure how old I was when I did this a lot, maybe 8-14? SOOOO much fun.

In retrospect, I wonder how I managed to spend almost all of my free time doing these things and no one said anything, lol.



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29 Jan 2018, 2:24 pm

Kiryoku1428 wrote:
Miss_Skitty wrote:
As a kid I very much liked Lego and learning about bus and train routes and how buses and trains worked :P


That reminds me as a kid how much I loved architecture. I obsessed over designing dream homes and properties, watched a Re/max real estate channel (it was all we had when my family moved and didn't have cable). I would get good at predicting how expensive a house and property with certain traits would be, including based on their location. Then I would design my own places, decide where they would be, and predict their price. Presented some of these to my parents to check my work :lol: . This went on for years.

Also for years I would design my high school and university programs. Sometimes based on the existing local high school's design (and I would pick my electives, etc.) other times I would create what I thought was the best curriculum. I started this in 4th grade. I didn't slow down until a year after I graduated college, but I still fantasize about better program options and pretend "what if" I went to so-and-so college and took this program, what electives would I take and when?

I also played with globes, atlases, and spreadsheets. I imagined myself and a group of friends all specializing in a different -ology. I would calculate and research the logistics in expeditions all over the world. I also created a narrative, deciding at what point in our lives we would go certain places, what adventures we had on the side of the job, and what our lives were like between expeditions. I calculated salaries, rent, and utilities. I'm not sure how old I was when I did this a lot, maybe 8-14? SOOOO much fun.

In retrospect, I wonder how I managed to spend almost all of my free time doing these things and no one said anything, lol.

This reminded me of the island I planned. It had a palace, estates, hospitals, mental hospitals, parks, and woods. I named it after my sister. In the palace there were waterways instead of corridors, so you got from room to room in a short version of a gondola. My plan included that I would live in the palace until I died, and then it would fill up with sand and become my mausoleum. Nothing odd there for an eight year old :D
My next invention when I was 9, was my design for a tea maker. It was a whole room where you puled levers until the hot water ended up with the teabags in a big well that doubled as the table. So you opened a trap door in the middle of the table, lowered your empty mug down it attached to a chain into a big tea cavern and then wound it back up full of tea :D



peregrina
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29 Jan 2018, 5:03 pm

kraftiekortie wrote:
If one is not interested in "specifically feminine" interests, it does not equate to that person being "unfeminine."

I don't find an interest Tolkien particularly "masculine." In fact, as a kid, I thought literature was something that "girls" liked.

And what is "masculine," or "unfeminine" about playing music?

Both men and women can have "gender-neutral" interests, too.
:skull:
Come to think of it, most "interests" are probably "gender-neutral."


I agree with you. I know a man who is very interested in poetry and literature and, like you, even reads books that are mainly read by women. I don't think that certain genres of literature are gender specific.
In my early twenties, I enjoyed classic children's books like Treasure Island, Moonfleet, etc.