Special interest

Many people who have ASD develop a deep, consuming, verging on obsessive fascination in a hobby or interest. These interests in early childhood and parents will identify that their child’s autism must be responsible for their special interest because it seems to captivate them in a way thats totally enthralling. Individuals who have high functioning autism like asperger’s syndrome often become experts in their interest and you would be hard pressed too find something they didn’t know about their interest. Loved ones can become concerned about us having such a mesmerizing interest because from the outside this of display of obsession can sometimes come across as alarming. A helpful and positive way of addressing this concern is to encourage them to broaden their field of knowledge by expanding on the interest by introducing them to new areas closely relate to the special interest. It’s important that you do this sensitively by gently steering them onto other areas. If it feels like you are hurding them into it your interaction could become frustrating for them. For someone with autism its very important that they have a way of retreating from the world when their environment becomes stressful. Retreating into your special interest is a way of calming yourself. If there are people who I don’t know visiting my home I may become anxious by the unpredictable situation so retreating into something that occupies my mind is an instant way of reducing that anxiety.
My family realised fairly early on that I had a fascination with nature, especially the nature that was at the bottom on my garden. A friend of mine who is also on the spectrum has a very keen interest in space. The most common special interests people with autism have that I’ve come across have been things like transportation, trains, planes and automobiles, nature and insects, which is my special interest. Space and all things Scfi. Some of the more unusual ones have been on things like TV soap operas or world records. Its important that those closest to us take an interest in our special interests as a way of making a connect. By taking an interest in something we are obsessed and fascinated by is a way of communicating together and even a way of showing love.
Here is my top 10 special interests inspired by my own interest and those of my friends.


  • Nature and insects. Theres a whole world happening at the bottom of the garden
  • Planes, trains and automobiles. Aircraft and transportation fascinate many autistic people, particularly trains and rail transport
  • Animals and Pets. Dogs in particular can have a calming influence on people with ASD
  • Computer games. They can provide a non-intimidating way to socialise with others playing multiplayer games
  • Watches and clocks. Although many people with autism have difficulty understanding time the devices we use to read time can be fascinating especially those with intricate mechanisms
  • Space and the stars. The movement of the planets, the way we follow the stars and the endless possibilities in science fiction
  • Collecting themed cards. Sports-Facts such as baseball or football cards and scoreboard information can attract autistic interest
  • Unique interests. Exotic creatures, unusual plants, historic events, famous people in history, TV shows and so on. Almost anything could become an attractive interest for someone with ASD


When choosing a gift or toy for an autistic person it’s important to think about their developmental ability as well as their actual age. Read more…

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