Autism Awareness: Interests

How do you get someone interested in something? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Generally, I have heard it said on the spectrum we approach topics in two ways. We either have no interest in them whatsoever, or we have full-blown obsession. If I get into something, I really get into it, and if I don’t care, then I just don’t care.

I’m thinking about this today since yesterday a group on Facebook I’m in had a mother asking how to get her son interested in history. I recommended to try to connect it with something else that he does enjoy. For example, even if I didn’t care for history, I think as a gamer I would very much enjoy Gaming Historian to learn about the history of some of my favorite video games.

There are a number of TV shows that my Dad started watching before I did. Three that come to mind immediately are the Batman series with Adam West, Cheers, and Smallville. Today, I know more about each of those shows than he does. He grew up watching Batman and I’m the one that can tell him most everything about every episode. I can quote various scenes from Cheers and as for Smallville, let’s just say there was a time in my life when I had every episode title memorized in order, and there were over 200 of them. Sure, they all had one word in them, but still….

This is one reason that if you want to get into the world of someone on the spectrum, it’s always good to find out what they care about. At the same time, if you’re not really interested in something, don’t fake it. We don’t like fake people. If you don’t really like something like Smallville, don’t act like you do around me.

This also means when it does come to something like gaming, that generally I will try to do the best that I can. It’s part of the obsessive thinking. This is also a great help to me in apologetics as once again, I want to do the best that I can.

The downside is sometimes a person can get tunnel vision with this. If we’re in conversation, we can get super excited about something not realizing that people around us just don’t care. I have to watch myself in a Bible study group. I can easily become dominant in a setting like this because I have so much and I think it just has to be shared.

So if you meet someone on the spectrum and you get them talking about their interests, expect to hear all about them. If you think the communication needs to be corrected, be gentle. The last thing you want to do is really silence someone on the spectrum or tell them their interests don’t matter.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)
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