Post Revisited, Reedited, Reworded, Reblogged From May 05th 2018
What’s So Special About That Then?
These days l only have a few very specialised interests, passions and enthusiasms in comparison to all the years before me leading to the days of a youngster when l have held down many. Last year  l was seeking a new dedicated focus, which thankfully l found with blogging or writing in a blog as l do now.
I prefer the term ‘dedicated focus’ in consideration to ‘special interest’ personally which is a term coined and known about by many on the spectrum of autism. It was a term l saw in a book authored by Tony Attwood l read in 2015. I like it as much as like seeing puzzle pieces and ribbons when associated with autism – which trust me when l say is NOT a lot!
Special Interest makes me think that in many ways/some ways it is somewhat demeaning to me. So l like my term better as that sums my behaviour up when working with my chosen hobbies. Because ultimately, that is what they start off as ‘hobbies.’ Call them what you will, but for the sake of this post, l shall be referring to them as hobbies just for the very direct familiarity of it.
Since l was a youngster l have held down many, too many in fact to mention, however if they have stayed on in my life, it is because the interest level has never waned for me. Some hobbies will stay with me for ever and become a fixed interest of passion whilst others will flounder in the dust.
Let’s look at hobby as a word though – described as a regular activity frequently engaged in for leisure and or enjoyment. The difference of course to someone like me is down to the level of dedication l award to it with my free time. I often ask if there is a significant distinction between intense hobbyists to a Spectrumites’ intense fixations?
For me, l might start a hobby and if it develops further then it becomes a dedicated focus and from there it can then be accepted into my basic formula of normalcy or it can be elevated into something much higher pending my overall interest. Of course it can also be discarded to the wayside.
For instance l love to write, and read and watch films and listen to music. These form my basic ‘hobby’ requirements – part of the staple diet of interests. However l don’t just participate like most ordinary people do – no, that is way too easy! I like to write whereas most people like to jot [bloggers exempt from this l hatsten to add], l enjoy rhyming poetry and creating it, but l simply love to put pen to paper or digital to digital!
For a very long time l was a hard core gamer, l was dedicated and loyal to a few games, but principally in so far as online gaming, World of Warcraft [WoW] had my heart. I started to play that game in 2004 and literally this week, l will be leaving it forever, so l played that genre for 15 years!
When l used to game with WoW, I didn’t just game, l was a hard core gamer l really get into it by immersing my very soul into the life essence of the game itself, l have to live the experience. Anybody can watch a film, but l collected films and had a good many titles and all listed into desk top directories by actor. But l then learned all the films they are in, and can name their co-stars. I have an eclectic musical taste and will happily listen to Arabic and Chinese alongside everything from house to trance and beyond. And l love to read, with a target of around 50 books per year whereas most non-readers struggle to read perhaps 2, if that.
Everyone has hobbies – this l readily accept – and yet the difference between the autistic hobbyist and others is this one main phrase ‘focus’ and specifically ‘clearly defined intensity’. Anyone can do any hobby, its simple – except most people don’t absorb it into their very life essence. I will ‘do it to death’. I will live, breathe, eat, and shit that hobby to the point that l have at times a complete contempt for it, and then it will be spat out! Of course that falls heavily into the arena of ‘lack of moderation’ as well, another struggle.
If the subject has some real content to it, in so far as diversifications then there is an excellent chance that the interest could remain in my life for years and years – like World of Warcraft did. That’s the difference and trust me when l say, it’s a huge difference to just another having a hobby they love.
The other thing that should be remembered is that many a time those on the spectrum are not just content to perform in one interest at a time and tend to focus on the minimum of a half dozen for variation and mental stimulation.
I have looked back at interests that have stayed with me for long periods of time since childhood or as a teenager and have diversified as l have got older. These form the staple to my basic functionality. Some are not as intense as they used to be, but always have a place in my heart.
Playing soldiers to table top war gaming, to military history, to writing about history.
Drawing, to creative art to photography,
Reading, to writing, poetry, rhyme to a love of the written word,
Discovering my sexuality to becoming obsessional about all forms of sex,
Watching films, collecting films to specialising in categorising the genres,
Asperger’s diagnosis, researching to developing business concerning awareness,
Exotic livestock brokerage to political primate husbandry, protocols and administrations
Rodent breeding to genetical inheritance and colour mutations
The Art of the Dandy to the world history of fabrics and textiles
World of Warcraft to specialising in fully understanding multimillion gold earnings in game and to guest writing on gold makers blogs.
Listening to music, to developing bizarre and strange tastes in eclectic genres,
Starting indie businesses to specialising in niche businesses,
The Occult to ghost hunting, X-files and horror, cryptozoology
Novice vegetable gardening to composting and developing mixtures for greater results for harvest.
In the past l have held down numerous other interests, too many to mention in fact, but here is a selection of them. Some of these still hold a place dear to me even now.
Stamps, postcards, matchboxes, coins, comics and fanzine collecting, Yo yo’s, Frisbee’s, Boomerangs, Board Games, Puzzles, Tetris, Rubik’s Cube, Jogging, hockey, ironing, baseball, archery, canoeing, dancing, retro and antique furniture & weaponry, archaeology , bugs, creepy crawlies, sharks, reflections, running water, waterfalls, telephone numbers, Airfix modelling, Thunderbirds, pottery, train spotting, dinosaurs, butterflies, painting, flower pressing, word puzzles, pen pals, theology and philosophy.
Some of the current obsessions can be very time consuming, so much so that l completely lose track of life around me. During the writing of this post, Suzanne came in twice and scared the crap out of me as l was that focused on the screen; with the music playing behind me that l was completely unawares to her presence. You see with a dedicated focus you can easily become hyper focused and that of course can be detrimental. You can easily acquire the title of ‘selfish bastard’ with your interests. I am very lucky; Suzanne doesn’t give me a hard time. However my ex-wife was always referring to me in the most derogatory and colourful language!
When it’s time for me to find a new hobby, it’s not always that simple these days, because l have done so many hobbies in the past, that very little holds any great interest for me. I have to these days take into consideration a lot of different points – more so than l used to have to ever consider! Will it be fun, entertaining and interesting all at the same time? Will learn new skills from having this new hobby?
Will it keep me occupied for many hours, is there a chance of turning a hobby into a money making venture and then perhaps lead to a business? Is it a hobby that is age specific – as in something that will cope with the age l am now? Is it going to keep me stimulated in all areas? Will it be able to utilise all the skills and the experience l have learned from life and all other hobbies to date? Will it allow me to specialise as well as allow for diversification as well?
These are considerations that l never used to take into account before when looking for a new hobby. Before it was a case of ‘oh l haven’t tried that, let’s give it a whirl!’ But that’s the sort of thing mere hobbyists do, not those of us who put our souls into a hobby. It’s fine if you are looking for a hobby for a few months a year at most, but it is entirely something else if you are looking for a hobby or activity, interest or focus that you want to spend a good few years with.
Suzanne doesn’t have many hobbies, her usual answer is that she was always busy with many things as a youngster, or that little girls have different hobbies to little boys when referring to us as children. To when she was a teenager she was only interested in boys and working, to finally topping it all off with that as a young adult her hobby was raising her two children and so she was a young mother. Her answers for being an older mother or now a grandmother have been she is there for her children and her grandchildren, or would be more so if they didn’t live so far away as in Devon and Australia!
So the end game, is that Suze is not used to having hobbies as an adult. She has interests of course, but no real enthusiasms for long term hobbies. She has dabbled of course and she does like yoga and walking and Nordic walking, being outside and gardening. One of her main hyperfocus areas is traveling, although apart from what basically amounts to glorified babysitting trips to Australia she has not been on any huge holidays for quite some time.
As a family we used to be able to walk for miles, but with my shoulder and Scrappy ageing and more so with the arrival of terrible arthritis for her, this restricts that kind of activity.Her yoga doesn’t appeal, and more so l am a bit redundant with my arm and shoulder the way they currently are.
However, enough of my prattling, how about you, do you have any enthusiasms, motivations or activities you enjoy pursuing? Have you turned a hobby into a money making venture? Do you still have any of your interests from your childhood days that still live with you passionately?