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Joe90
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23 Sep 2021, 6:01 pm

I don't know if obsessions and special interests are the same thing or not.


You know when a computer gets a malicious virus and it takes over all your programs and everything? That was what an obsession did to my brain when I was a teenager. I got this obsession with this guy I knew, and it became unhealthy. The obsession literally took over my mind and nothing else in the whole world was as important as this obsession. I couldn't talk about anything else - or even think about anything else. My mind was just overtaken by this guy and his family. It made me give in to mental urges to stalk them, which almost got me into trouble with the police, and I lost friends because of it.
Thing is, I hated the obsession, and I was so glad and thankful when it started to fade and I could be in control of my mind and be free and talk about normal things again. I had an obsession with someone else after that but it wasn't as bad.

If that isn't a special interest, then I've never had special interests in my life. Only obsessions. Do other people with AS or ADHD get obsessions as chronic and intense as that?


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Edna3362
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23 Sep 2021, 6:34 pm

Fundamentally, in it's mechanics and behaviors quite the same.

But the difference is that...
Obsessions are usually unwanted special interests.
Or, special interests are helpful obsessions.

Person with obsessions do not like the special interests they ended up with.
They see it as some compulsion that overtook it's life and thought, better off out of their lives. It brought them isolation and despair.

Person with special interest is interests on par with the act of obsession. Sure it kinda looked like an addiction, but it's usually something they would be proud of.
They see it as a huge advantage, they won't ever see themselves and their life without it.
It likely be their means to connect and brought them joy instead.


Expressions of special interests and obsessions varies from people.

Take me for example -- my special interests are generally not expressed verbally.
But that's because it's sensory and visual. :lol:
I didn't even bother with it's names and labels or even the name of said special interest at all.

Yet at the same time, that particular special interest is a very socially acceptable, a plausible niche for business and socializing -- it attracted more acquaintances than something I can get in trouble for.


If anything... I think issues with impulsivity are more to do with translating the ongoing thoughts of obsessions or special interests into words and actions.

There are many means.
Some want it verbally. Some want it nonverbally. Some do it by hoarding items or hoarding knowledge. Some do it through experiment. Etc.

But not many can branch out and expand instead of remaining to be deep and narrow.

Some people are better at mental compartment -- decided to limit the expression into somewhere private.
Others required a trigger to release the dam at any moment.

And then there are others who can and willfully lock it in any outward expressions and actions.
I happened to have this ability myself.


But yes. It is entirely possible for anyone person to have obsessions that intense and chronic at all, really.
Those with AS and/or ADHD are just prone to it.

There was a study somewhere...
That says people with poor control over their special interests or obsessions have more executive functioning issues than those who can control themselves around it.


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dragonsanddemons
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25 Sep 2021, 10:16 pm

Joe90 wrote:
I don't know if obsessions and special interests are the same thing or not.


You know when a computer gets a malicious virus and it takes over all your programs and everything? That was what an obsession did to my brain when I was a teenager. I got this obsession with this guy I knew, and it became unhealthy. The obsession literally took over my mind and nothing else in the whole world was as important as this obsession. I couldn't talk about anything else - or even think about anything else. My mind was just overtaken by this guy and his family. It made me give in to mental urges to stalk them, which almost got me into trouble with the police, and I lost friends because of it.
Thing is, I hated the obsession, and I was so glad and thankful when it started to fade and I could be in control of my mind and be free and talk about normal things again. I had an obsession with someone else after that but it wasn't as bad.

If that isn't a special interest, then I've never had special interests in my life. Only obsessions. Do other people with AS or ADHD get obsessions as chronic and intense as that?



This is why I use the term “obsession” in regards to myself, because for me, that’s exactly what it is. Often I at least don’t mind the particular obsession and they are a sort of escape for me, but sometimes I get ones that I dislike and want absolutely nothing to do with, and I have little to no conscious say in the matter. After a while they decrease to a level that might possibly be adequately described as a “special interest,” but usually it at least starts at the level you describe. I’m not diagnosed with anything relevant besides autism, but I’ve strongly suspected for a while that there is something else at play for me, because that usually doesn’t seem to be what people are talking about when they say “special interest.”


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Joe90
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25 Sep 2021, 10:28 pm

It seems I have never had a special interest then. I've never got fixated on to a certain subject or been able to sit and learn about it or memorize every fact about it for hours.

I remember when I was 12 I got really obsessed with Spanish. It became my favourite subject in school, and my goal was to become fluent in the language. I bought myself some CDs to help me learn Spanish at home, but although I was obsessed with it I just couldn't sit and focus on learning from the CDs. I struggled with learning it in school too, and after a few months I lost interest because I had to face the fact that I'm no good at learning languages. But most autistic people would most probably learn a language easily if a language became their special interest. I mean, how do you guys focus so well?


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dragonsanddemons
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25 Sep 2021, 11:20 pm

Joe90 wrote:
It seems I have never had a special interest then. I've never got fixated on to a certain subject or been able to sit and learn about it or memorize every fact about it for hours.

I remember when I was 12 I got really obsessed with Spanish. It became my favourite subject in school, and my goal was to become fluent in the language. I bought myself some CDs to help me learn Spanish at home, but although I was obsessed with it I just couldn't sit and focus on learning from the CDs. I struggled with learning it in school too, and after a few months I lost interest because I had to face the fact that I'm no good at learning languages. But most autistic people would most probably learn a language easily if a language became their special interest. I mean, how do you guys focus so well?


I had the stereotypical Aspie memory as a kid, but lost that somewhere near the end of high school. Interest/obsession doesn’t affect my learning or comprehension abilities. Even after two years of Latin class, I never got to a point where I didn’t spend several minutes on each sentence, and I don’t think I ever got more than a C on a chemistry exam, despite at least having high interest in both. I do “hyperfocus,” but that really just means I sit there scrounging for every bit of information I can find with Google for six hours and have it feel like thirty minutes, not that I’ll remember most of it later. But usually my full-on obsessions are with things that aren’t really learned or have any sort of skill involved, like one particular movie or one specific Pokemon, so it’s harder to find anything measurable with them.

Maybe I’ve never had anything that qualifies as a proper special interest, either. I’ve never really been sure of that.


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25 Sep 2021, 11:25 pm

I thought that special interests were supposed to be "obsessive"? I become obsessive over mine and don't want to really do anything else but engage in them and talk about them.


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26 Sep 2021, 12:33 am

I'm obsessed with studying nutrition, the ancestors and health

I also love sequin art

I love my obsessions though and don't want them cured

I'm OK with not being normal



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26 Sep 2021, 12:34 am

try to find people who like you for yourself

there will be many out there little miss chatterbox



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26 Sep 2021, 12:36 am

HeroOfHyrule wrote:
I thought that special interests were supposed to be "obsessive"? I become obsessive over mine and don't want to really do anything else but engage in them and talk about them.


what do you like to natter about?



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26 Sep 2021, 12:42 am

dragonsanddemons wrote:
Joe90 wrote:
It seems I have never had a special interest then. I've never got fixated on to a certain subject or been able to sit and learn about it or memorize every fact about it for hours.

I remember when I was 12 I got really obsessed with Spanish. It became my favourite subject in school, and my goal was to become fluent in the language. I bought myself some CDs to help me learn Spanish at home, but although I was obsessed with it I just couldn't sit and focus on learning from the CDs. I struggled with learning it in school too, and after a few months I lost interest because I had to face the fact that I'm no good at learning languages. But most autistic people would most probably learn a language easily if a language became their special interest. I mean, how do you guys focus so well?


I had the stereotypical Aspie memory as a kid, but lost that somewhere near the end of high school. Interest/obsession doesn’t affect my learning or comprehension abilities. Even after two years of Latin class, I never got to a point where I didn’t spend several minutes on each sentence, and I don’t think I ever got more than a C on a chemistry exam, despite at least having high interest in both. I do “hyperfocus,” but that really just means I sit there scrounging for every bit of information I can find with Google for six hours and have it feel like thirty minutes, not that I’ll remember most of it later. But usually my full-on obsessions are with things that aren’t really learned or have any sort of skill involved, like one particular movie or one specific Pokemon, so it’s harder to find anything measurable with them.

Maybe I’ve never had anything that qualifies as a proper special interest, either. I’ve never really been sure of that.


I had autistic symptoms as a child andmild tourettes but no obsessions unless you count Bank forms....

id get upset if my mum went to the bank without me and didn't bring forms back.

I also had a dummy bottle until I was almost 8

I was tested as a Child and was behind my same age peers in some ways but forwards in others...backwards but forwards at the same time go figure....

I did OK at uni, got mostly A's....how I did it I've no idea but did badly school because I was bullied



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26 Sep 2021, 12:47 am

at 14 I was obsessed with Madonna

still wear the Madge bangles now

she was and always will be my inspiration..i prefer her early years though



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26 Sep 2021, 12:48 am

I also have my tickle



Edna3362
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26 Sep 2021, 2:49 am

Joe90 wrote:
It seems I have never had a special interest then. I've never got fixated on to a certain subject or been able to sit and learn about it or memorize every fact about it for hours.

I remember when I was 12 I got really obsessed with Spanish. It became my favourite subject in school, and my goal was to become fluent in the language. I bought myself some CDs to help me learn Spanish at home, but although I was obsessed with it I just couldn't sit and focus on learning from the CDs. I struggled with learning it in school too, and after a few months I lost interest because I had to face the fact that I'm no good at learning languages. But most autistic people would most probably learn a language easily if a language became their special interest. I mean, how do you guys focus so well?

If you have ADHD... I think takes more than just fixations.
Ask yourself -- what engages your mind instead of just overwhelm?


The expressions of fixations and obsessions also had to be a bit specific.

Fixations can just be about hoarding about the language materials. Or the sound of the language. Or the 'idea' of fluency.

But does that actually translate to learning the language? Not always.
Not a lot of obsessions or special interests branches out.


Here's a very common one: many special interests stays a theory or a fantasy, but not much of a practice or an action.

Usually due to individual obstacles (not enough aptitude to self taught, not enough patience, etc.) or circumstances (not enough time, not enough resources, not enough guides, etc.)

Like me for example -- I have fixations on story telling. But did that made me writer or even a prolific reader? Nah...

Didn't had the time nor a guide. Nor patience. Or a 'space' for it because another special interest occupies it.


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26 Sep 2021, 3:02 am

Joe90 wrote:
But most autistic people would most probably learn a language easily if a language became their special interest. I mean, how do you guys focus so well?

Different autistic people have different kinds of attention issues. I've noticed the following three distinct attention patterns described by various autistic people:

1) The conjunction of autism and ADHD: No more-than-normal difficulty with multi-tasking (relative to NT's), but great difficulty focusing on anything at all, except for occasional brief periods of hyperfocus.

2) Monotropism: The opposite of typical inattentive ADHD. Great difficulty with multi-tasking, but a strong natural tendency to hyperfocus for long periods of time. This is my own attention pattern, and that's how I focus so well.

3) Unfiltered: Extreme difficulty filtering out irrelevant sensory input.

People with all three of these attention patterns can have special interests, but the special interests seem to play a somewhat different role in each attention pattern.


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Dandansson
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26 Sep 2021, 7:31 am

Joe90 wrote:
It seems I have never had a special interest then. I've never got fixated on to a certain subject or been able to sit and learn about it or memorize every fact about it for hours.

I remember when I was 12 I got really obsessed with Spanish. It became my favourite subject in school, and my goal was to become fluent in the language. I bought myself some CDs to help me learn Spanish at home, but although I was obsessed with it I just couldn't sit and focus on learning from the CDs. I struggled with learning it in school too, and after a few months I lost interest because I had to face the fact that I'm no good at learning languages. But most autistic people would most probably learn a language easily if a language became their special interest. I mean, how do you guys focus so well?

I think what you are talking about is "having difficulties with something". People with "special interests" often don't think about how they are struggling to learn something, either because they don't know that they actually have difficulties with or that they only choose something that they are really good at and did it their own way.



Last edited by Dandansson on 26 Sep 2021, 7:40 am, edited 1 time in total.

Dandansson
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26 Sep 2021, 7:39 am

Joe90 wrote:
I mean, how do you guys focus so well?

by not telling myself to focus. Seriously, demanding myself to focus makes focusing more difficult.
What I do is focusing on what is natural for me to focus on and take it from there.
8)