Obsessed? Or just very very focused? 

Gary Numan recently shared how he is autistic, and that because of that, he tends to get ‘obsessed’ with things. Or, as he says, people refer to it as obsession, with perhaps negative connotations, while he thinks of it as something positive, an ability to focus intensely on things. 

And I agree. 

I have written before on how our interests and passions are negatively framed as obsession. And yet, non-autistic people can have deep interests on things and just be seen as passionate about a subject. 

When something sparks my interest, I tend to focus completely on it for a while. Until I am satisfied I have absorbed as much information on it that I possibly can. 

Those interests can be very varied. Some are a bit obvious, like my interest in reading scientific papers about EDS or autism. Or my attempts at an encyclopaedic knowledge of Pokémon. But they can also come from left-field. Things I never thought I’d be into can become the focus of my attention for various reasons. 

Today, for example, my attention has turned to American football of all things. Although, for the last few months, my interest in all types of football, such as soccer, rugby and gaelic, has risen immensely so it’s not completely out of the blue. It helps that I’ve recently made friends with autistics who are interested in these sports. So, I find myself watching matches, where I can, or at least following the progress of certain teams. Learning the names of key players. Reading up on their injuries. And following the league tables. 

I saw a list today of ‘special interests’ of autistics, divided into ones held by ‘mostly autistic women’ and ‘mostly autistic men’, with a third list for ‘both’. And again I was annoyed, not just by the exclusion of non-binary people, but also by the splitting up of the interests in the first place. I didn’t read it too carefully, so I don’t know where football fits in the list. But I’m sure plenty of autistic women are interested in football, and plenty of autistic men are interested in knitting, or whatever. 

Special interests don’t need to be genedered. They just are. And they are a huge source of comfort, of passion, of focus, for autistics everywhere. 

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