Special Interests vs. Narrow Interests

Page 1 of 3 [ 35 posts ]  Go to page 1, 2, 3  Next

DonDud
Pileated woodpecker
Pileated woodpecker

User avatar

Joined: 19 Jul 2010
Age: 35
Gender: Male
Posts: 184
Location: North Carolina

31 Jul 2010, 7:52 pm

Is there any distinction between special interests and narrow interests? I've seen "narrow interests" used in AS/autism overviews, but around here, the term "special interests" seems to come up more often.

Often, it seems like special interests can be very unusual, one of the most interesting I've seen being bathrooms. My dominant interest is video games... that just seems so tame, so expected. Not to mention there is so much variety within the category of video games. Does it qualify as a "special interest"? I have narrow interests... pretty common nerd interests, though I'd say more narrow than the average nerd. While AS and the autistic spectrum seems to describe me so very well, I find myself questioning whether these things are the archetypal "special interests" or obsessions of another nature.



Callista
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 3 Feb 2006
Age: 36
Gender: Female
Posts: 11,395
Location: Ohio, USA

31 Jul 2010, 8:07 pm

"Encompassing preoccupation with one or more stereotyped and restricted patterns of interest that is abnormal either in intensity or focus" is how it's written in the diagnostic criteria. You'll notice that it says "abnormal in either intensity or focus". A "narrow interest" would be specifically those that are "abnormal in focus"--i.e., unusually specific, such as being fascinated with the geology of the Grand Canyon (a narrow interest). An interest "abnormal in intensity" would be studying geology on your free time eight hours a day or more, spending all your extra cash on it, etc.

Special interests cover not just narrow interests but unusually intense ones, too; and many of us have special interests that are both unusually narrow and unusually intense. We tend to become specialists.


_________________
Reports from a Resident Alien:
http://chaoticidealism.livejournal.com

Autism Memorial:
http://autism-memorial.livejournal.com


eon
Pileated woodpecker
Pileated woodpecker

User avatar

Joined: 25 May 2010
Gender: Male
Posts: 194

31 Jul 2010, 8:12 pm

Dr. Tony Attwood comments that "Special Interest" wasn't present in all of his clinical experience with the high functioning side of the spectrum.

Personally, I feel that any interests that are very dedicated and dominate all time and thought would fit the profile. In children they are more likely to seem unusual. Example: In grade school I was obsessed and fixated upon Logic puzzles, both the physical type you solved by manipulation (rubik's cube, as an example) and written ones that you solved by reasoning, including riddles, paradoxes, and cryptograms. I collected books of them and the physical puzzles themselves. This began to extend into a mathematical realm as I started to reach adolescence, expanding into the desire to solve algebra problems. Most people would consider this pattern of interest abnormal.

Currently I maintain several interests - post-theism/atheism, android programming, lucid dreaming (somewhat dormant), and spectrum disorders (newest). These are less unusual in a way but I feel they fit the pattern required. They dominate and define my sense of identity.


_________________
http://youhaventmetyourselfyet.blogspot.com/
Learn the answers to all your wondering... get Complete Guide to asperger's by Dr. Tony Attwood.
http://www.aspiescentral.com/member.php/75-eon
ADHDer since 1990. Diagnosed Aspie 8/2010


one-A-N
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 2 Mar 2010
Age: 65
Gender: Male
Posts: 902
Location: Sydney

01 Aug 2010, 1:42 am

For me, one of the issues is "falling in love" with a topic. I am interested in languages, and sometimes when I hear about some obscure language I just have to know about it ... but I won't be at all interested in another related obscure language. It is like the language becomes my "secret garden" - it is just me and my obscure language. I feel like I am exploring a hidden world where no else goes - although of course, if it is a real language then people on another continent do speak it and (obviously) do know more about it than I do.

But in the English-speaking world where I live (Australia), when I say that I read or speak a certain obscure language, I then have to explain what the language is because usually no one else has ever heard of it. I really like those off-beat little paths where so few others go ... my private world. The odd thing is, the language will have to be a specific dialect - any other dialect of the language just leaves me cold. E.g. when I bought a book about Rheto-Romance (eastern Switzerland), I only cared about information on the Engadine dialects (Vallader and Puter) ... I just wasn't interested in the other dialects for some reason (well actually I do know the reason: there is a suburb called "Engadine" in my part of Sydney, and somehow I felt I had discovered a mysterious Engadine behind the ordinary Engadine that I knew - kind of like stepping through the wardrobe into Narnia).

I don't know if others feel this sense of secret wonderment with any of their special interests? It's like you're the only one who cares about your special topic.



rmctagg09
Velociraptor
Velociraptor

User avatar

Joined: 13 Mar 2008
Age: 28
Gender: Male
Posts: 429
Location: Brooklyn, NY

01 Aug 2010, 1:52 am

Whenever I get interested in something, I tend to become an expert pretty quickly due to my sponge of a brain. As for my special interests, they consist mainly of zoology, history, and gaming. I also have a passing interest in firearms.



alexptrans
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 31 May 2010
Age: 177
Gender: Male
Posts: 878

01 Aug 2010, 2:26 am

one-A-N wrote:
For me, one of the issues is "falling in love" with a topic. I am interested in languages, and sometimes when I hear about some obscure language I just have to know about it ... but I won't be at all interested in another related obscure language. It is like the language becomes my "secret garden" - it is just me and my obscure language. I feel like I am exploring a hidden world where no else goes - although of course, if it is a real language then people on another continent do speak it and (obviously) do know more about it than I do.

But in the English-speaking world where I live (Australia), when I say that I read or speak a certain obscure language, I then have to explain what the language is because usually no one else has ever heard of it. I really like those off-beat little paths where so few others go ... my private world. The odd thing is, the language will have to be a specific dialect - any other dialect of the language just leaves me cold. E.g. when I bought a book about Rheto-Romance (eastern Switzerland), I only cared about information on the Engadine dialects (Vallader and Puter) ... I just wasn't interested in the other dialects for some reason (well actually I do know the reason: there is a suburb called "Engadine" in my part of Sydney, and somehow I felt I had discovered a mysterious Engadine behind the ordinary Engadine that I knew - kind of like stepping through the wardrobe into Narnia).

I don't know if others feel this sense of secret wonderment with any of their special interests? It's like you're the only one who cares about your special topic.


Wow, I'm exactly the same! I'll find some obscure dialect of Arabic spoken by a handful of nomads somewhere in the Sahara desert, and learn everything I can about it.



one-A-N
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 2 Mar 2010
Age: 65
Gender: Male
Posts: 902
Location: Sydney

01 Aug 2010, 8:30 am

alexptrans wrote:
Wow, I'm exactly the same! I'll find some obscure dialect of Arabic spoken by a handful of nomads somewhere in the Sahara desert, and learn everything I can about it.


Out of interest, where do you find books etc about obscure dialects of Arabic - assuming they are written in English? The closest I have gotten to languages in that part of the world was reading a few online sites about Aramaic.



Last edited by one-A-N on 01 Aug 2010, 10:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.

ooOoOoOAnaOoOoOoo
Veteran
Veteran

Joined: 18 Jun 2008
Gender: Female
Posts: 13,399

01 Aug 2010, 4:41 pm

Encompassing preoccupation with one or more stereotyped and restricted patterns of interest that is abnormal either in intensity or focus doesn't imply the interest is unusual, just narrow. It means you are interested in one thing and obsess on it. Some kids focus on an unusual interest, while others read about dogs or horses. It could be drawing. It doesn't have to be specific or unusual, just narrow and intense.



Hodor
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 17 Mar 2008
Age: 30
Gender: Male
Posts: 1,208
Location: England

01 Aug 2010, 5:47 pm

Slightly off topic but languages are awesome :) Although nowadays I'm more interested in linguistics, which is to do with the science of how languages work. Actually here's a case in point, proving that special/narrow interests aren't necessarily bad: I've been very interested in linguistics, especially historical linguistics (basically...where languages come from and how they change and split off over time). When I was at school there was no real practical use for my interest in linguistics because I was studying sciences and maths at the time. But, three years on, I'm studying a degree in Linguistics and loving it :) Maybe one day I'll be a linguistics professor, where I'll have free rein to give countless monologues on my areas of interest to students.

/derail


_________________
"Never try to teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and annoys the pig."


marshall
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 14 Apr 2007
Gender: Male
Posts: 11,000
Location: Turkey

01 Aug 2010, 9:07 pm

Sometimes it has more to do with lack of interest in "normal" popular things that NT's seem to be drawn to for social reasons. NT's seem to be drawn to take interest in things that allow them to have something in common.



one-A-N
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 2 Mar 2010
Age: 65
Gender: Male
Posts: 902
Location: Sydney

01 Aug 2010, 10:41 pm

Hodor wrote:
Slightly off topic but languages are awesome :) Although nowadays I'm more interested in linguistics, which is to do with the science of how languages work. Actually here's a case in point, proving that special/narrow interests aren't necessarily bad: I've been very interested in linguistics, especially historical linguistics (basically...where languages come from and how they change and split off over time). When I was at school there was no real practical use for my interest in linguistics because I was studying sciences and maths at the time. But, three years on, I'm studying a degree in Linguistics and loving it :) Maybe one day I'll be a linguistics professor, where I'll have free rein to give countless monologues on my areas of interest to students.

/derail


I loved the whole historical linguistics thing. I was fascinated by the fact that English used to be so different that it would have to be learned as a foreign language. I got a book on Old English Grammar for Christmas when I was 14. I still own it and it is well-thumbed and treasured - one of my most memorable Christmas gifts (I also got a big toy wooden sailing boat once, which was pretty cool at the time). I loved reading about all the inflections and about sound changes, how words and languages morphed over time. Even now, in my 50s, I have just bought some books about Old Saxon, including a dictionary, and a set of minor texts. I also regularly read the modern dialects that descended from Old Saxon. ...Hmm, I think I have just confessed that I have had the same special interest, more or less, from age 10 up to my 50s...

On a side note, when DSM says "abnormal ... in focus", I thought that meant an interest in a topic that most typical people would think was unusual. I have always been aware that my interests are "odd", although quite harmless.



davethenat
Tufted Titmouse
Tufted Titmouse

User avatar

Joined: 1 Aug 2010
Age: 42
Gender: Male
Posts: 37
Location: Indiana

03 Aug 2010, 12:41 pm

As stated very well here previously, special interests can become narrow interests. One possible interpretation of the difference between the two is that narrow interests are highly focused, and tend to involve items, objects, events, people etc., for which most people have little to no interest. For example, you listed video games as a special interest. I assume this means that you like playing them, reading or talking about them, and generally experiencing a wide variety of games. Most males in our generation share this interest. However, if you were ONLY interested in, say, Atari 2600 games, you read extensively about early Atari programmers, knew the technical specifications of the system, the history of its development, the full catalog of games and their release dates, that might be more accurately called a "narrow" interest. One NAT that my wife worked with had a "narrow" interest in ceiling fans. They fascinated him, entered into most conversations he had with others, and he had near perfect recall of makes and models, and could identify one on sight. He was a child, did not have any relatives who worked with ceiling fans, yet he pursued this interest for several years of his primary schooling.


_________________
Thriving Adult Neuro-atypical
http://davethenat.tumblr.com


TPE2
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 20 Oct 2008
Gender: Male
Posts: 1,546

03 Aug 2010, 6:49 pm

I think that the degree of the "narrowness/intensivness" of an interest can be analised in 3 dimensions:

1 - "size" of the interest - you are interested in "History" vs. you are interested in the "Northern crusades against the balts and finns"

2 - time you spent in the interest - it is an hobby that you pursue at weekends vs. you are almost all the (at lest free) time reading/doing/thinking in it

3 - interference with the things that you need to do - this seems similar to the 2nd dimension, but is different: you can have only one pastime but not have any problem in work, clean the house, etc instead of enganging in these pastime; and you can have many interests that interfere substantially with your daily activities (I wonder if it is the case of people with ADHD)

I suspect that the big difference between NTs and Autistics sometimes is more the 3rd dimension that anything else.

For example, I spent almost all my time thinking/reading about politics or psychology; however I know someone that seems a classical NT that spends almost his free time watching soccer transmission at TV and, when he talks about his childhood, the talk is almost always about soccer games, basket games and soccer trading cards.

The difference is that his passion about sport (apparently) never caused any problem in his work, house choirs or socialization, while I, in the last 3 hours, am reading/posting thing in the net while my dishes (of breakfast, luch and dinner) are still unwashed.



DonDud
Pileated woodpecker
Pileated woodpecker

User avatar

Joined: 19 Jul 2010
Age: 35
Gender: Male
Posts: 184
Location: North Carolina

03 Aug 2010, 9:12 pm

Hmm OK so my interpretation of the words "special" and "narrow" in this context may have not been the most accurate.

Perhaps "limited" interests defines me more, but video games do consume most of my thought, in a way that I believe must be unusual. I enjoy a broad range of games, and I have some other interests... just not very many. None of my interests are particularly unusual, but outside of the Internet, I very rarely can connect with anyone on the topic of video games in such a way that I feel the other person really wants to talk about it.

The thing someone above said about disinterest in normal activities... very much so.



Kiseki
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 29 May 2010
Age: 40
Gender: Female
Posts: 1,604
Location: Osaka JP

03 Aug 2010, 11:16 pm

I'm also curious what makes a special interest "special." I don't really know how the degree of my intensity towards things varies from other peoples'...