Is it still a special interest without hyperfocus?

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bluerose
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31 Aug 2012, 10:17 am

How do you know if something I want to do is a special interest or just a normal ambition like NTs have? If I don't have hyperfocus and don't collect facts about the activity, I just do it and sometimes procrastinate etc, doesn't that make it just a normal interest?

A note on why I'm asking:
I've recently become a bigger believer than ever in the whole spectrum from NT to AS thing. I used to really have special interests, the obsessive type, when I was younger, but now I really don't see why I should call them that anymore. Maybe I should start calling them hobbies. Just like I used to have awful social skills and now I really don't feel any deficit in that area anymore. I've grown out of Aspergers. And I was a totally hopeless case when I was a teen, a hundred percent textbook case. If it turns out not even the special interest thing fits anymore, I guess I'm NT now.



Vince
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31 Aug 2012, 10:26 am

You can't just "become" NT. Sounds more like you've learned to cope and keep yourself balanced and gained a lot of functionality. So congratulations on that.


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OddDuckNash99
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31 Aug 2012, 10:41 am

Special interests are defined as being abnormal in both intensity and focus, so no, I wouldn't consider your interests to be special interests if you feel they are more hobby-like. But like Vince said, if you had AS in the past, you're not NT all of a sudden. ASD symptoms can change over time, as well as lessen in severity. I was actually the opposite of you. Although I've had special interests all of my life, as a child, my special interests primarily were collection-based or fixation to certain stuffed animals. It wasn't until I was around 11 1/2 that I first developed the more "classic" type of special interests where I would give monologues on a particular subject. (Interestingly, this change happened around the same time my OCD became full-blown and extremely severe.) So, just keep in mind that a person's presentation of AS symptoms easily can change throughout the course of their life.


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bluerose
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31 Aug 2012, 12:15 pm

Yeah, but if my presentation of symptoms isn't distinguishable from me being NT, what difference does it make? I mean, is there really any proof of any sort of areas of the brains of aspies being physically abnormal in some way or having some sort of physical thing that guarantees that our brains can't develop out of the syndrome?

Interacting with people is no problem for me anymore, and it doesn't stress me out or require any special effort.

I never really had the CNS symptoms, such as meltdowns, sensitivity to sensory stimuli, or coordination problems. I'm weak, but not in a syndrome kind of way, just a nonathletic person.

So, really, if there's nothing indicating I'm not NT, then I'm NT. Afterall, a syndrome is a collection of symptoms and without symptoms, no syndrome.

But this is kind of offtopic. What I'm really interested in is I guess how special interests are different from hobbies and ambitions. Is it just that you collect facts and stuff on it but you don't really do anything practical with it that makes it a special interest? Or is hyperfocus a must and how does it present itself in aspies as opposed to normal, very focused people?



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31 Aug 2012, 12:38 pm

There is movement along the spectrum and i do NOT believe THAT one can totally rule out the possibility of moving along an invisible line THAT blends Autism and Non-Autism together. Then again, you might simply fall along the Broader Autism Phenotype, now.

I would have to know your developmental history BUT you mention no co-morbids in your post, no learning/developmental delays, no behavioral problems, and no language issues.

You would possible be a candidate for Social Communication Disorder or Social Reciprocity Disorder, now.

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31 Aug 2012, 1:06 pm

TheSunAlsoRises wrote:
There is movement along the spectrum and i do NOT believe THAT one can totally rule out the possibility of moving along an invisible line THAT blends Autism and Non-Autism together. Then again, you might simply fall along the Broader Autism Phenotype, now.


It bothers me when people say that people can't become subclinical, but it also bothers me when people say that people are suddenly NT because people can become "more autistic" again.

I prefer "in remission" type language with something like this person is currently subclinical added on.

The DSM criteria that special interests are for is actually abnormal in intensity or focus, not "and". So they don't need to be abnormal in both. But they do need to be abnormal somehow. If they are abnormal in intensity it is possible to have special interests without hyperfocus. I've had them before. But these were things that while I didn't hyperfocus on the intensity was without question a special interest intensity. (And I'm not being able to describe what that means)



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31 Aug 2012, 6:19 pm

I think you can learn coping skills that can make functioning in the world a lot easier, and make it seem like you're no longer autistic. It just means you've learned great coping skills and know how to use them. You can't be autistic and then suddenly be NT (but that doesn't stop many with autism from wishing).