The Difference between Special Interests and Normal Hobbies

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Kiseki
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16 Oct 2011, 10:13 pm

I'm just curious how all of you feel about special interests. I genuinely do not know if, when I have an interest, I go about it in a normal way or an AS way. Well, I just don't know how NT people practice hobbies etc.

Anyway, when I become interested in something this is the general course of action for me:

1) slow build of vague interest leading up to a sudden emotional reaction
2) emotional reaction turns into complete obsession with the subject
3) intense desire to learn/understand everything possible about it
4) wake up thinking about it, think about it during the day, trouble sleeping because I am still thinking about it
5) pursuing my interest is more like research/ I feel like I need to read about it from every angle
6) when I feel like I have learned everything I need to know, my interest in the subject fades away
7) generalized depression, apathy, and lost feeling when I have no special interest/ having a special interest means that my life is centered

This is how things have been for me all my life. #7 is something I've experienced post-college graduation. I don't remember if it was like that when I was younger. Maybe not, because my interests lasted much longer than they do now.


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CockneyRebel
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16 Oct 2011, 10:33 pm

7) generalized depression, apathy, and lost feeling when I have no special interest/ having a special interest means that my life is centered.


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Kiseki
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16 Oct 2011, 10:35 pm

CockneyRebel wrote:
7) generalized depression, apathy, and lost feeling when I have no special interest/ having a special interest means that my life is centered.


Do you mean you feel this way too?


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Mudboy
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16 Oct 2011, 10:47 pm

My obsessions are like that.
My hobbies of gardening, billiards, and reading do not have the same level of desire as my obsessions..


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btbnnyr
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16 Oct 2011, 11:31 pm

You are going about it the AS way. What you described is similar to how I would describe it, except that for me, it is very hard to give up any special interest completely. For every obsession I've ever had, I'm still deeply interested in it and may become re-obsessed at any time. They are like volcanoes in my head, biding their time for the next eruption. Giving up a special interest is like kicking a puppy for me.



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17 Oct 2011, 12:04 am

Kiseki wrote:
Anyway, when I become interested in something this is the general course of action for me:

1) slow build of vague interest leading up to a sudden emotional reaction
2) emotional reaction turns into complete obsession with the subject
3) intense desire to learn/understand everything possible about it
4) wake up thinking about it, think about it during the day, trouble sleeping because I am still thinking about it
5) pursuing my interest is more like research/ I feel like I need to read about it from every angle
6) when I feel like I have learned everything I need to know, my interest in the subject fades away
7) generalized depression, apathy, and lost feeling when I have no special interest/ having a special interest means that my life is centered.


^^ That's pretty much the life cycle of a special interest for me too. I think what makes hobbies different for NTs is that they don't obsess over their favorite subject 24/7 like we do. :D Then again I'm not Neurotypical so IDK.



Kiseki
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17 Oct 2011, 12:05 am

btbnnyr wrote:
You are going about it the AS way. What you described is similar to how I would describe it, except that for me, it is very hard to give up any special interest completely. For every obsession I've ever had, I'm still deeply interested in it and may become re-obsessed at any time. They are like volcanoes in my head, biding their time for the next eruption. Giving up a special interest is like kicking a puppy for me.


Hmm, I find that when I return to special interests I used to have the fire is gone. I still have vague interest in them. The love never truly goes away, but that same intense passion doesn't return. My mind is constantly changing, it seems.

Well, either way, good to know that I am going about things the AS way. LOL. So how do NT people go about it?


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DC
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17 Oct 2011, 12:42 am

Kiseki wrote:

1) slow build of vague interest leading up to a sudden emotional reaction
2) emotional reaction turns into complete obsession with the subject
3) intense desire to learn/understand everything possible about it
4) wake up thinking about it, think about it during the day, trouble sleeping because I am still thinking about it
5) pursuing my interest is more like research/ I feel like I need to read about it from every angle
6) when I feel like I have learned everything I need to know, my interest in the subject fades away
7) generalized depression, apathy, and lost feeling when I have no special interest/ having a special interest means that my life is centered


I agree with all of those but would add a couple.

4.1) Anything that has to be done including eating and sleeping that distracts from the special interest is a trivial annoyance and irritant.
4.2) The entire world becomes viewed through your special interest perception filter. If the special interest is rock climbing then you know the best route up every building you see. Everything you touch you are assessing how much friction it would offer as a hand or foot hold etc etc. If the special interest is programming then as you go about your daily business you no longer see a car in front of you, you see an instance of the car class and are continuously writing code in your head with routines for how best to wipe your own bottom...



aautismgirl
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17 Oct 2011, 1:26 am

List of Asperger’s Syndrome characteristics:

http://www.autism-world.com/index.php/2 ... teristics/



quaker
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17 Oct 2011, 1:34 am

My special interest is bird behavior and identification.:......in springtime when I go to bed my tinitus is replaced by birdsong. Sounds lovely, but at times I'm frantically trying to identify each bird like I'm in the field.



Callista
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17 Oct 2011, 3:15 am

One of the best ways I've found to describe it to an NT is that it's like falling in love. It's the same obsession, the same single-minded determination to learn absolutely everything, spend every waking moment thinking about it, even dream about it. The first rush of new love, or perhaps the bonding of a mother with her new baby, is the only thing I've ever seen that's nearly as strong as autistic special interests. Of course, autistics can also fall in love, or bond with their children; but we seem to apply that same sort of intensity to our special interests, too.


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17 Oct 2011, 8:43 am

Callista wrote:
One of the best ways I've found to describe it to an NT is that it's like falling in love. It's the same obsession, the same single-minded determination to learn absolutely everything, spend every waking moment thinking about it, even dream about it. The first rush of new love, or perhaps the bonding of a mother with her new baby, is the only thing I've ever seen that's nearly as strong as autistic special interests. Of course, autistics can also fall in love, or bond with their children; but we seem to apply that same sort of intensity to our special interests, too.

^THIS^


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Kiseki
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17 Oct 2011, 8:52 am

Callista wrote:
One of the best ways I've found to describe it to an NT is that it's like falling in love. It's the same obsession, the same single-minded determination to learn absolutely everything, spend every waking moment thinking about it, even dream about it. The first rush of new love, or perhaps the bonding of a mother with her new baby, is the only thing I've ever seen that's nearly as strong as autistic special interests. Of course, autistics can also fall in love, or bond with their children; but we seem to apply that same sort of intensity to our special interests, too.


Wow, that is so true! I've discovered that I actually treat people like special interests as well, when I develop crushes on them. It's quite terrible.

But anyway, the way you described this I have absolutely felt!


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Kiseki
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17 Oct 2011, 8:52 am

DC wrote:
Kiseki wrote:

1) slow build of vague interest leading up to a sudden emotional reaction
2) emotional reaction turns into complete obsession with the subject
3) intense desire to learn/understand everything possible about it
4) wake up thinking about it, think about it during the day, trouble sleeping because I am still thinking about it
5) pursuing my interest is more like research/ I feel like I need to read about it from every angle
6) when I feel like I have learned everything I need to know, my interest in the subject fades away
7) generalized depression, apathy, and lost feeling when I have no special interest/ having a special interest means that my life is centered


I agree with all of those but would add a couple.

4.1) Anything that has to be done including eating and sleeping that distracts from the special interest is a trivial annoyance and irritant.
4.2) The entire world becomes viewed through your special interest perception filter. If the special interest is rock climbing then you know the best route up every building you see. Everything you touch you are assessing how much friction it would offer as a hand or foot hold etc etc. If the special interest is programming then as you go about your daily business you no longer see a car in front of you, you see an instance of the car class and are continuously writing code in your head with routines for how best to wipe your own bottom...


Definitely agree with these as well :)


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hanyo
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17 Oct 2011, 9:41 am

Kiseki wrote:
7) generalized depression, apathy, and lost feeling when I have no special interest/ having a special interest means that my life is centered


I relate to that.

When I was younger people always said I got obsessed with things but when I don't have a current obsession that I'm so interested in I want to do it all day every day I don't know what to do with myself and feel lost.