When does it become too much?
It is common for a person with Autism to have a special interest.
My girl is very much all or nothing. She is a very rigid thinker.
She either hates something, or becomes super interested in it.
It sounds harmless enough doesn’t it?
It is one thing to have a special interest, a completely different thing to have an obsession.
How do you tell the difference though?
From my experience with my autistic girl and neurotypical son, I would say that neurotypical people have special interests, and people with Autism have obsessions!
It is no secret that my girls obsession is Pokémon. (And soft toys; her constant.)
No secret because it is all she talks about, all she draws, all she plays, 24/7.
I used the word obsession because she is completely obsessed.
She is consumed by them.
She spends her days searching for them, searching for information about them.
She lives and breathes Pokémon.
Whilst this long suffering, mind numb, completely fed up of Pokémon Mum, would like to put an end to this obsession, I couldn’t. I wouldn’t.
It is my girls happy place.
A place she goes to feel calm and safe.
A place that turns her into a girl that can converse, that can chat away about all things Pokémon…..
(Whether you like it or not!)
I wouldn’t want her to refocus on age appropriate activities because it is the norm.
I have to say I admire her perserverence.
To spend each and every moment learning everything about something, and not stopping until you know everything, and then searching for more.
That hunger to learn, that intensity, that drive.
How great would it be if this is how we looked at it.
I know there is a fine line between having a special interest and having an obsession.
I have seen it with my children.
As much as I would like to divert her attention from Pokémon, I know if I did, a new obsession would be born…..because that is how she is, how she has always been.
Her obsessions may seem a burden, but to her they are her everything.
There are positives:
She begins conversations, she chats, she talks at you. Yes all Pokémon…..but social skills!
She relaxes, smiles, is happy.
She enjoys it. I see enjoyment on her face, I see enjoyment when she draws me yet another Pokémon. I see her pride. I feel it.
It is her safety, her hidey hole, her place to go when the real world gets too much.
It is the hug she needs when physical contact is unbearable.
People with Autism have the same love of things as everyone else, they just express it differently.
Obsessions, special interests, love of things we wouldn’t expect……if it makes her happy, then I am happy.