Good wood - here’s a Halloween spooktacular special - David Connor Design and Kate Darby Architects have transformed a tumbledown cottage in England’s West Midlands into a home and studio, enveloping the ruined old structure in a shell of black corrugated metal. And where did that hooded character in the last image come from???
a non-autistic’s guide to autistic special interests
autistic people like myself have these things called “special interests,” and a special interest can be kind of a hard concept to convey sometimes, so i’m going to try and explain it here to help non-autistic people (aka allistics) better understand
a common stereotype or image of an autistic person i’ve seen portrayed in media is a nonverbal little boy who’s obsessed with trains. the trains part is the special interest: autistic people become obsessed with specific things to the extent it’s all we can think or talk about sometimes. all autistic people are different, so the way that special interests present in autistic people varies greatly depending on the person.
autistic people are commonly emotionally drained by social interactions. what drives us and refuels us and makes us thrive is indulging in our special interest, learning everything we can about them. this could be by infodumping (enthusiastically telling someone everything we know about our special interest, usually as an attempt to connect with them or show them what’s important to us), or pursuing a career in the field of one’s special interest, or watching a new movie if your special interest is an actor or director, or anything like that. we reach out to others by talking about our special interests. for example: if your special interest is an actor, you show a friend a movie with that actor in it.
(note: special interests are a lot like obsessions, and if your special interest is a real person then that, like any person’s obsession, can cross a line at some point - but like with all people, it depends on the person. almost all autistic people respect boundaries, just like almost all allistic people respect boundaries.)
special interests can be anything, but a common trend is mechanical or technical things (like trains, airplanes, watches and watch-making, space, physics, etc), potentially because we love figuring out how things work in a literal sense. we also love fantasy and have big imaginations, so fantasy series like lord of the rings, harry potter, etc are common, as well as stuff like paranormal investigating, aliens, or the occult. we also have a very strong sense of justice, so social justice or human rights tragedies are common. but like i said, special interests can be anything, like architecture (a certain style or time period, or all architecture), animals (anything from one specific animal like a pet, to a certain species, to all animals), food (being obsessed with only eating a certain food for a little while, or food/cooking in general), sports (participating in or watching one specific sport, knowing everything about all sports, or fitness/health in general). anything you can think of, it can be a special interest.
you can also have more than one special interest, though from what i’ve seen there’s usually one dominant special interest that takes up the most time and energy. special interests are generally just a result of the autistic brain interpreting the world and fixating on certain things.
some of my past special interests, for some examples: airplanes, the titanic, ghosts/the science side of paranormal activities (even though i didn’t even believe in it), abrahamic religions, narnia, architecture, lord of the rings, the show fringe, lee pace, richard ayoade, criminal minds, the davinci code, autism, space, cults
i have two current special interests: actor aaron tveit, and making gifs. these intersect really well, because i just make a lot of gifs of aaron. i’ve had my gif-making one for about four years, and aaron for about one year now.
i’ll use aaron tveit as my example for the way special interests work and what having a special interest would entail: i watched one of his movies, les miserables (not even for the first time; i’d seen it before), and afterwards i had a very strong desire to see what else he was in. i watched all of his movies and shows that i could find. i watched and read every interview. i found out he had a concert in new york, and saved up and went. i watched movies and shows just because his former costars are in them, or he mentioned he liked it in an interview. nothing in the world makes me happier than showing a movie aaron’s in to a friend for the first time; aaron and his work are how i connect with others.
(at this point i’d like to say that as an autistic person, justice is more important to me than just about anything, and aaron’s privacy and respecting his personal life and not being a creep are all extremely important to me and i really don’t want to seem like a crazed stalker fan stereotype. people have tweeted some of my gifs at him and even just that level of interaction with him makes me extremely uncomfortable.)
special interests can last anywhere from days to years to a lifetime; it all depends on the person. we don’t really have control over what our special interests are (i once read about an autistic person who was extremely afraid of spiders but then got a spiders special interest). if i’m between special interests and watching a new movie i’m always like
(fun fact: the creator of community, the show that gif is from, is autistic!)
i’ve also seen a lot of autistic people talk about their special interests being linked to their anxiety; we feel empty when we’re between special interests, worry that we’ll never know everything there is to know about it, worry that we’re experiencing our special interests “wrong” (too quickly, too many at once, etc), or become afraid we’ll lose our interest and feel empty again. additionally, indulging in a special interest is commonly a way to help with anxiety.
in conclusion: special interests are very intense interests that fuel autistic people, and are a very key part of ~the autistic experience~. special interests can be anything, can last any amount of time, and more than one special interest can be had at once.
(if you’re reading this and currently don’t consider yourself autistic but this post is ringing a lot of bells, i would highly suggest doing some research into autism. the current statistic is that 1 in 64 people are autistic, but it’s suspected to be even more common than that, and autism is very commonly missed in girls, children of color, poorer children, etc. autism as a whole is very misrepresented and misunderstood in the media and academia, and you could very well be autistic and not know it)
anyone can reblog this (please do), and any autistic people can add on if i’m missing something important!