Special Interests

Admittedly, I can be an obsessive person sometimes.

I’ve been known to fall into deep, unfathomable infatuations with male musicians whom I’ve never met, for example. These obsessive periods could last for weeks, months, and in the worst case to date, years.

Hey, Matty Healy from The 1975. 😉

I also will bite the skin around my fingernail until it bleeds rather than allowing a hangnail to occupy my cuticle bed, its ugly, pointy head mocking me every time I reach for a pen or my cellphone.

A new obsessive habit of mine since I’ve started Creative Communications is over-analyzing my writing (and others’) for spelling and grammar. I’ve become a monster. My eyes, like two red laser beams, viciously scan sentences looking for a comma splice, a misplaced apostrophe or any suspicious letter that may require immediate capitalization.

But none of my infatuations have ever compared to M’s. In all the years I’ve known him, his interests have hardly changed or broadened. He has stayed focused exclusively on most of the same songs, T.V. shows and toys.

When I first met him, M’s thing was Twentieth Century Fox. I don’t mean any single one of the hundreds of movies and T.V. shows they produced; I mean their introduction music. I’m talking about the majestic blend of snare drum, horns and string symphony that opens up a good majority of my favourite films. To the YouTubers like M who have contributed to the song’s 32.5 thousand views, it’s got a name. It’s the Twentieth Century Fox Fanfare. For about a year, M played it on YouTube every day, sang it, wrote it everywhere and made me learn it on the piano.

Twentieth Century Fox Fanfare

Next, it was the PBS Kids bumper song. M would sing the PBS Kids jingle and draw the logo constantly. He would find YouTube videos that had sped it up, slowed it down and even reversed it. PBS Kids was all he could talk about for almost six months, flapping his hands wildly whenever it was on.

PBS Kids Jingle

Today, M’s fascination lies in books.

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M browsing for books he already owns.

He loves to read. His favourite books are the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney. He owns all nine books of the series in addition to the Wimpy Kid Do-It-Yourself Book and the Wimpy Kid Movie Diary. He knows almost the entire first four pages of the first book, The Long Haul off by heart and will gladly recite it anytime.

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Artist hard at work.

He can draw the Diary of a Wimpy Kid characters to a T from memory. Over the summer, M probably filled a thousand pages with Diary of a Wimpy Kid characters. I’m sure Mr. Kinney would be pleased to know that if there were ever to be a problem with his illustrator, M would gladly take his or her place.

Of course, there isn’t a day with M that I’m not forced into a Diary of a Wimpy Kid role-playing game. M is always the protagonist, Greg Heffley, and it takes him no time at all to get into character. I, on the other hand, am usually struggling to channel the likes of Rowley Jefferson, Heffley’s unintelligent, chubby best friend.

“Ok, Becca. You be Rowley, I be Greg, okay?”

Yeah, yeah ok.

We all have interests and passions, autism or no autism, but the difference between my soft spot for boy bands and M’s intense love for Jeff Kinney books is the extent to which we are interested.

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Still browsing.

Restricted interests (also known as special interests) in autistic people are very common. A special interest is a thing, concept or hobby that a person with ASD dedicates a lot of time to. M, for example, spends more time thinking about Diary of a Wimpy Kid than someone not on the spectrum might dedicate to thinking about his or her favourite book.

I’ve included an informative page about obsessions and special interests in autistic people from Ambitious About Autism below:

Obsessive Behaviour and Special Interests

Temple Grandin, who has autism spectrum disorder, turned her special interest into a wildly successful career. Now a professor of animal science, best-selling author and autism activist, Grandin as a child just really, really liked horses.

I’ve included Grandin’s fascinating TED talk entitled, The world needs all kinds of minds.

Temple Grandin TED Talk

Special interests are by no means bad things. In fact, I’m ecstatic that M wants to sit down and read a book rather than sit down in front of a violent video game for hours. I really don’t mind pretending to be Rowley Jefferson every once in a while either; it’s a nice brain break after a long day at school. M’s love for Diary of a Wimpy Kid also doesn’t interfere with any other aspect of his life. He enjoys playing non-Wimpy-Kid-related games with his friends, he does his schoolwork, and he almost never gets upset when I say it’s time to stop watching Jeff Kinney interviews on YouTube. So if M’s special interest means he and I spend 50 minutes in the kids section at Chapters on a Saturday afternoon, then so be it.

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