hey! would you mind explaining the difference between special interests and 'regular' interests?(i'm sorry if this isn't the right terminology) i'm not autistic, or at least i've never been diagnosed, but from what i've managed to find online, it seems like what i've been experiencing my entire life would fall into the special interest category and it honestly felt amazingly comforting when i discovered there's a term for that, but like i said, i'm not autistic and i don't want to appropriate
this is a really complicated thing to try and explain (and its also kind of a controversial topic)(because people always argue that SI’s can apply to anyone)(i disagree)(the things we feel and the way we feel about SI’s are inherently different to usual/NT interests literally because we’re autistic yknow) + i have alexithymia so im useless at trying to explain feeling stuff and SI’s are a huge feeling so i dont even know how to explain
****ALSO immediate disclaimer: i can only speak from my own experience and if any other autistic people disagree then please feel free to comment or correct
i dont know if theres a way to put it into words ?? a special interest is intense and consuming and its energising and it brings about all-encompassing positive feelings and its like a huge warm blanket but its not the same as a usual/NT interest because its not like (for example) “yeah im a big fan of (interest). i smile when i see it and like to read about it sometimes.” and its also not the same as “im totally in love with this (interest) it makes me so unbelievably happy and i find it very comforting”
its like (special interest) is everything and im going to read as much as i physically can and look at as much as i can because (special interest) makes me feel ok for once. absorbing myself in (special interest) allows me to breathe a little easier for a short while. when im tired reading about (special interest) helps to give me energy and thinking about it helps me feel less suffocated during bouts of overload. absorbing myself in (special interest) helps me to feel like im slowly healing through episodes of burn out. in times of great stress and upset i can use (special interest) as a sort of mental-defense, and i can concentrate and think about it and separate myself slightly from whats happening around me until i can get myself somewhere safe. (special interest) has become part of my identity because it means so much and feels so important that i literally cannot separate myself from the interest and i recognise myself in it when i see it. sometimes i get so absorbed in (special interest) that i lose track of hours and sometimes even days accidentally. (special interest) bring about a special type of (autistic) happiness and satisfaction that i cant find anywhere else.
(and so on and so on)(that still doesnt feel like enough)(SI’s are so much and i dont know how to adequately put it into words)
i really dont know honestly i hope this is somewhat helpful or something
sidenote: a copy + pasted post (link):
FROM AN AUTISTIC KID TO ALLISTICS
please stop calling your interests that mean a lot to you your “special interests”. special interest is a term for people on the autism spectrum, not for you guys to throw around like it means nothing. having special interests means the world to so many autistic people (especially young autistics) and seeing the term used loosely by allistics is kind of infuriating.
Also, special interests are pathologised as a symptom of autism, and using the term is a reclamation by actually autistic people. In the medical community, autistics having a special interest is considered a problem, therapies are aimed at forcing autistics to give them up, and they are forbidden to speak about them – even when it’s totally normal for allistics to have driving hobbies and interests.
For allistics who have ADHD and similar disorders, “hyperfocus” is a common term.
If you’re neurotypical, just say “hobby” or “passion” or “fandom” or something like that.
****if any other autistic people want to reblog + comment or contribute opinions or ideas or how SI’s feel to them then please please do !! this was such a struggle for me to try and word and i have no idea if it makes sense or anything