The Difference between Special Interests and Normal Hobbies

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Joined: 24 Feb 2007
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17 Oct 2011, 11:07 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...

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.

^ These quotes pretty much sum up exactly how I feel about my special interests. To answer the OP's question, it is that level of intensity which separates normal hobbies from special interests.


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Joined: 14 Jan 2011
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17 Oct 2011, 11:31 am

wow! There are some really great quotes here. Yes, my own interests are treated much the same way. The only real difference I've found is that my interests tend to be comparatively shorter lived. That's always been a source of frustration to me since I frequently move onto something new. i wish sometimes that I were more able to stock with an interest for a prolonged amount of time.

I don't suffer from insanity. I enjoy every minute of it.


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Joined: 23 Feb 2010
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17 Oct 2011, 11:37 am

I have an interest in moths, butterflies, flies, bees, dragonflies and daddy longlegs, (mostly moths) but I wouldn't consider it as a special interest or obsession. I just love them.

I also have an interest in the weather, but I wouldn't consider that as a special interest or obsession either. I've just gotten a little obsessed because I have an intense hatred of snow, and so I'm always keeping my eye on the weather on the BBC website every winter.

I DO have a special interest in a certain bus company. Well, I call it an ''infatuation'' really because I'm a bit mad over some of the bus-drivers (feelings of love is involved). I draw pictures of them, write stories about them, make up information about them or if I know some true information I write that down too.

Aged 29
On antidepressants
Diagnosed with AS, ADHD and anxiety disorder


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Joined: 17 Jul 2004
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17 Oct 2011, 2:08 pm

Kiseki wrote:
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?

I do. :)