Thøger Kari Hass wrote an article titled, “The Necessity of Special Interests for Me as a Person on the Autism Spectrum” for The Mighty. In it, he described how, for him, special interests differ from hobbies. For example, if he is engaging in a hobby, and something else comes up, or changes, or he becomes stressed, he can put the hobby down and leave it.
A special interest, on the other hand, is quite the opposite. The greater his stress, the greater his need to engage in the special interest.
Note that I said “need,” not “desire.” Hass explains that in the midst of life changes or stress, he literally needs his interest in order to remain functional. When he becomes overly tired or low on coping ability, rather than just getting grouchy as many neurotypicals might do, he completely loses important abilities, such as the ability to gauge his own emotions or stress levels, the ability to understand facial expressions, tone, and nonverbal communication. He loses his grasp of his own vocal modulation, tics, temperament, and reactions to stimuli.
When that happens he truly needs to engage in his special interest in order to return to normal equilibrium, to become more himself again. This is not a selfish desire to ignore his family so that he can do something he enjoys, this is what he requires in order to be there for his family.
If you can relate to this, but your family or friends don’t get it, please consider reading this article and sharing it with the people in your life.
Because more people need to hear this message.