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KitLily
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25 May 2022, 5:17 am

I was only diagnosed aged 52 so I grew up seeing autistic people as different to me, and I believed the stereotype of autistic people as 'always having a few specialised interests which they have all their lives.'

That is not me whatsoever, so I never thought I could be autistic. I tend to get obsessively interested in something, but it only lasts a few months. Sometimes years, but not often. Then a switch flicks in my brain and I'm suddenly not interested anymore. Really like a door slamming, I lose interest and can't imagine why I was ever interested in the subject.

e.g. I was obsessed with Vikings for a couple of years. Then click! Lost interest. A year later, a friend sent me lots of articles on Vikings and I couldn't understand why he'd done so. I'd forgotten about Vikings and thought the friend was a bit strange. Then I remembered that I had once been interested in them and he was trying to help me. Facepalm!

Can anyone relate to this?


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vividgroovy
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25 May 2022, 5:30 am

I've been obsessed with Disneyland since I was a child. When I was a teenager, I decided I was completely done with it and moved on to being obsessed with musical theater, but that only lasted a couple years and then I was obsessed with Disneyland AND musical theater. I even have recurring dreams about trying to get to Disneyland, or being there but everything is different.

I've also had obsessions that waned over time. For a while, I wanted to read everything John Steinbeck ever wrote. Now, I haven't read anything by him in years. Also, there was recently a production of "Into the Woods" in my city and there was a time I would have RUN to see anything Sondheim as soon as possible. While I'm still obsessed with Sondheim...I've seen a live production, the video production and the movie, so I didn't feel the need to see it again.



ToughDiamond
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25 May 2022, 6:29 am

With music I expect it'll last forever, but I don't know that it could be called an obsession exactly. I have a persistent drive to achieve my music goals and they occupy a lot of my thoughts, but I don't think it's any more than a strong interest, and I don't let it seriously mess up the rest of my life or greatly annoy other people. It used to do those things from time to time but I guess I learned that I had to keep it under better control. Not that I'm particularly happy with being so "well-balanced." Every time I indulge in my interests I get a nagging feeling that I might be neglecting other important matters, and when I'm not doing my interests I tend to feel bored and impatient to get back to something more rewarding.

Most of the time I kind of split my life up into fairly short, individual tasks. Some of them are about my special interests, some of them aren't. Whatever it is, I'm usually quite immersed in it, tackling it full on until it's completed. That way, because a given task doesn't take all that long, I don't end up going down a deep rabbit hole only to emerge years later to find the rest of my life in ruins. But things often take me rather longer than I expected, and I either start to worry and rush or I end up having to postpone some of the things I meant to get done that day. I suppose I see myself as having a "sticky brain" and I daren't let it attach itself to anything for long enough for the glue to set too hard, so I break everything up into shorter sub-tasks. It kind of works for me.



KitLily
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25 May 2022, 8:36 am

I suppose it's something to do with how much the subject 'hooks' us whether it lasts a few weeks, months or years. It seems to be more complex than what many people think of 'autistic' i.e. 'having a narrow range of interests that remain all their life.' I've met quite a lot of autistic people whose interests change often.

Years ago I read about a type of person called Renaissance/ Scanner/ Multipotentialite. Many different names for the same trait i.e. a person who has lots of interests, either all at once or one after the other. I don't think that is connected to autism.

I identified myself as the type who has lots of interests one after the other. I think a large % of people have lots of interests, it's just gone out of fashion recently because we're all meant to 'specialise' in something.

Not sure where I'm going with this but I do wonder if I'm actually autistic or just someone with obsessive interests. I was only diagnosed over Zoom during the pandemic, so the psychologists never actually met me in person, which seems kind of superficial.

Has anyone else looked into the Renaissance/ Scanner/ Multipotentialite trait?


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Pteranomom
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25 May 2022, 3:46 pm

My obsessions last for months to years. I suspect that truly life-long obsessions are rare.



kitesandtrainsandcats
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25 May 2022, 4:09 pm

Whether any of my interests have counted as obsessive is something I may not be the best person to evaluate. :D

There is a collection of interests which have lasted over half a century, at times varying which was foremost and which was almost dormant:

Spaceflight
Army tanks
Science fiction spaceships
Trains, including trams and trolleys
Airplanes
Submarines
Steamboats


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IsabellaLinton
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25 May 2022, 4:10 pm

I've had some for 40 years or more. They're the permanent ones.
Then I have passing ones which usually last a few days up to about six weeks.
Any passing interest is a hyper-fixation with an affiliated rabbit hole.



klanka
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25 May 2022, 4:15 pm

Some obessions of mine have lasted years. Some seem to be lifelong.



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25 May 2022, 8:41 pm

It varies. It can be weeks, months, years, or my lifetime.


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KitLily
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26 May 2022, 3:44 am

So really that is a terribly outdated view of autistic people 'only having narrow and unusual interests that last all their life.' We are all different, of course. I suppose my only lifelong interest is reading and writing stories, I don't think that qualifies as narrow and unusual, does it?

It is very interesting to know the different types and lengths of interests people have. Thanks for your input.


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jimmy m
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26 May 2022, 7:15 am

Interesting. You are discussing one of the main differences between Aspies and NTs.

Most NTs only gain little bits and pieces of knowledge. Their mind is very limited in scope. They become experts (if they are lucky) in one or two areas and many stop evolving in their teens or early 20s.

But I have noticed that in some (but not all) Aspies, we tend to dig much deeper and become subject level experts. We delve into things very, very deeply. It takes us longer to learn. But when we finally reach a point we have achieved a level of expertise far beyond the majority of people.

That is how we learn. One little interest after another. And over time we can become subject level experts on a wide divergence of interest. One of the interesting things about Aspies is THAT WE NEVER STOP LEARNING.


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ToughDiamond
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26 May 2022, 7:38 am

KitLily wrote:
So really that is a terribly outdated view of autistic people 'only having narrow and unusual interests that last all their life.'

Yes I think it is. It reduces us to a simplistic stereotype that isn't really borne out in reality. I think a lot of what's been written and said about Aspies is rather inaccurate like that. Of course ASD is a very complicated subject. I've had the condition all my life and have studied it for nearly 14 years, but I still don't feel like I've got my brain round it.



Joe90
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26 May 2022, 11:18 am

My first obsession lasted 4 years (age 13-17).

My second obsession lasted about 8 years (age 17-25).

Both obsessions consisted of people. I haven't had any other obsessions since, and I don't think I ever will again. Obsessions are a pain in the arse.


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kitesandtrainsandcats
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26 May 2022, 12:04 pm

KitLily wrote:
I suppose my only lifelong interest is reading and writing stories, I don't think that qualifies as narrow and unusual, does it?


When we have our weekly meeting at the local bake shop's back room on Saturday morning I'll ask our little county seat farm burg's creative writers group if they think that is unusual.


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IsabellaLinton
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26 May 2022, 12:36 pm

KitLily wrote:
So really that is a terribly outdated view of autistic people 'only having narrow and unusual interests that last all their life.' We are all different, of course. I suppose my only lifelong interest is reading and writing stories, I don't think that qualifies as narrow and unusual, does it?

It is very interesting to know the different types and lengths of interests people have. Thanks for your input.


The topic of interest doesn't need to be narrow or unusual.
Our preoccupation with the topic is narrow and restrictive, not the topic itself.
To some extent these special interests must interfere with our ability to function.



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26 May 2022, 1:48 pm

Joe90 wrote:
My first obsession lasted 4 years (age 13-17).

My second obsession lasted about 8 years (age 17-25).

Both obsessions consisted of people. I haven't had any other obsessions since, and I don't think I ever will again. Obsessions are a pain in the arse.


my first major obsession is 30years old or older...nutrition, diet, fitness, foodism, biohacking (as they call it now) and so on and so forth.

others ar transient

Cross stitching .. 22 years

puzzles .. 20 years

studying forever since before the age of 3....