One of the biggest areas of my life from childhood to this very day has probably got to be my special interests. They’re often subjects that I hang onto passionately for years, months, or even just a few days at a time. A lot of people on the Autism spectrum have these interests, and sadly many will often find themselves treated less than favorably when it comes to dealing with them.
I remember a time in Elementary School when I was very interested in Lilo and Stitch. I was bullied for my tendency to talk almost constantly about the little blue alien and his human friend. I was even beaten up once in the playground for it. Later on, I was taught how to converse in a more socially acceptable manner with neurotypicals, keeping my interests to myself until they were brought up. Luckily for me, my interests were not taken from me completely as they are for many other people on the spectrum.
Special interests, from what I have gathered from others with Autism, seem to be treated as a nuisance by many parents. They are either something to be held out of reach of their children until they are earned, or to be wiped away completely. What most may not understand however is that special interests are what make the world so much more tolerable and interesting to someone on the spectrum. Children with Autism are not the only people who suffer from stigma toward their interests either. Adults on the spectrum are often ridiculed for what they enjoy, especially if it is ‘inappropriate’ for their age. Many of them are teased and made fun of on blogs and YouTube channels as if they are freak shows simply for enjoying a children’s cartoon or playing a game meant for younger audiences.
Special interests are a big part of Autistic life, and that life can be made many times harder by having such a large chunk of it stripped away. Sure, teaching a child how to socialize correctly is great, but taking away the one thing that makes them who they are is not. Everyone has interests. Those of us on the spectrum are just a little more passionate about ours. Is that really so bad?