I did not know that I had a “special interest.” I knew that many people with Asperger’s have “special interests” and they get upset when they can’t pursue it. It is very important to them and they get so involved in it that they forget everything else. They will talk and talk about it, explaining the particular interest in great detail and they often have an advanced knowledge of the interest.
I had heard about it, but did not think I had one. In fact, I was being evaluated by a doctor a year or so ago and he asked me, “Do you have a special interest?”
“No, I don’t think so,” I replied.
When I got home and told my husband, he laughed. I asked if I did, in fact, have a special interest. He said, “Are you kidding me? Take a look at all the books and magazines you have around here. What is the topic?”
Neuroscience, the brain. Oh.
But I have discovered that I have a special interest that I feel even stronger about than neuroscience – analytics.
I am an analyst on my job and I am fascinated in analyzing things. I can take very large amounts of data and organize it, analyze it, in my head. I put it on paper so others can understand (I got really tired of trying to explain things and people not understanding).
On my job, when I was working with people who utilized my strengths (and were nice to me) I would analyze data and do projections, provide analysis for creating plans and help organize projects and determine achievable benchmarks. While I still analyze data to a degree, it isn’t as it once was. I was actually challenged when they had me on the other projects. I still did my regular job, but I did these other projects as well.
I actually felt valued there – no more, though. Those people don’t value me at all. If I dropped off the face of the earth, no one would notice there. Managers, supervisors, leaders, take the time to identify the strengths in your employees and use them. Make your employees feel valued and appreciated. You will get much more out of them. Right now, I am not working to full capacity.
It is hard to work effectively when people are telling you that you are bad and they bully you. You are so afraid of making a mistake or making this person, who already doesn’t like you, even more angry at you, you can’t concentrate effectively on the task at hand.
But I want to talk about my special interest, or, more directly, how it affects me. Maybe you can understand better Aspies and special interests.
When I am working on an analysis, I hate to be interrupted. The books and articles say that we get “upset” when we are not able to pursue our special interest or when we are interrupted.
Well, that is saying it very mildly.
If I am working on my special interest and I have to stop, my mind won’t shift to the new task. It gets locked up like I described in “Stimming and the Loop.” I can’t stop thinking about it and I feel very anxious. My throat gets tight and it is hard to breathe. I also get very irritable. This is because I don’t like being interrupted and I want to continue doing my activity because it comforts me, makes me feel secure and stable.
Most of the time in the world I feel so out of place, but when I am pursuing my special interest I just fit. I fit in the world at that point in time. It is comfortable and secure and familiar. It is hard to make people understand this, though.
The irritability I feel comes from those feeling I have, as I described , when I am separated from my special interest. It is a feeling of disorientation and alienation. I feel out of place again and unsure of what is next. With my special interest, I always know what is next.
Sometimes, all I can do to get relief and stop feeling so anxious is to say, “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus,” over and over. I can’t form a more coherent thought than that. But calling out to Him helps because He calms that storm that starts churning inside. And I am always accepted by Him. I always fit and am never an outcast with Jesus.
There is comfort there. Jesus gives me peace. He can give you peace too, all you have to do is ask Him for it.