Sunday, March 8, 2015

Autism, Interests, and Vera

You may have heard or read about interests that autistic folks are into. Some are cute, some are creepy, yes.

Note: both autistics and non-autistics (also referred to as "neurotypicals" or "allistics") have interests, and some interests we ride or die for. What separates the auties from the non-auties is pinpoint precision focus and integration of that interest into everyday life. Rough translation: things that interest me are wayyyyyy more intense and downright more obsessive than things that interest you.
Case in point? My pinpoint precision focus and integration into my everyday life of (British musician group) The Rolling Stones.

The Stones are my number one interest in the history of all my interests. Mick, Keith, Charlie, Ronnie, and former members and touring/studio folks both current and passed give me that much joy in life, things that I became interested in, since I discovered their music in February 1994, have actual ties to the "World's Greatest Rock & Roll Band".

For example, I also have an interest in the works of (British voice and stage actor) Hugh Laurie, OBE (Officer of the British Empire). Hugh's most successful televsion acting gig is, arguably, "[H]ouse, M.D.". With the pilot episode, there was a Stones reference at the end of the episode (the song "You Can't Always Get What You Want" was played). Then the soundtrack to the television series was released, and it featured Hugh with other actor-musicians doing a cover of the same exact song. Those are just two Stones connections with Hugh.

Another example is the interest in the works of (American voice actor) Steve Blum. Never heard of this man or recognized his voice until late 2011, when I discovered the television show, "Transformers: Prime," and Steve's vocal role as Starscream. To see this version of Screamer (with his high heeled peds and swaying hips), the Decepticon Seeker was a Cybertronian version of Sir Mick Jagger. I. Kid. You. Not. There are also the Stones references in four episode titles of Steve's most famous vocal work, the anime "Cowboy Bebop." Those are just two Stones connections with Steve.

Bored? Okay, let's try a different perspective. You know your interest is basically a part of a complete life when your friends, family, colleagues, and even random strangers take note in how much you love something. With my Stones love, I've managed to get other people to profess how much I heart this band.
  • Example 1: when I was inducted into my high school's National Honor Society, I had the opportunity to write a small bio for the announcer to read. Heh. Made a nice mention of the Stones in that script. And the announcer made mention of it.
  • Example 2: I was involved with a play that parodied rock songs from the mid-60s to the early-70s. I was given a role for this one night only event (to which I had to cancel because of last-minute acute severe health issues). In this role, the playwright gave my role two (not one, but two) Stones references to perform.
If that's not dedication and loyalty to an interest, then I have no idea what is.

Okay, fine. But why is it you have to discuss your one big interest all of the damn time? I mean, there are other things to talk about than that one thing.

I see your point. And I'll raise you with this point (note: the following only describes my point of view as an autistic and not for the whole autistic community): for most autistic folks, as well as folks on the autism spectrum disorder that don't carry the label of "autism," this is their one chance to feel a part of a community, to be a part of society, and not just a circus act kept locked away in a proverbial cage. When an autistic shares with someone their interest(s) in something or other, that autistic person is basically sharing their world with you through their interest. I betcha dollars to doughnuts you've seen or heard the word "infodumping," where one would go into great spectacular detail about a specific subject or interest. Hell, this damn post is one massive "infodump" on how interests work in autistic folks, heh. In other words, most (not all) autistic folks are not equipped with the basic structure of human societal conversation, and therefore don't know when to shut the hell up.

I'm flawless in rambling for eternity and a half yapping about Ronnie Wood's influence over Keith Richards as a turning point in the Rolling Stones's history moreso than Mick Taylor's epic musicial contributions. But at the end of the day, I have to remind myself (or a good friend will politely notify me) that not everybody is down with the band like I am.

Let's say you like fishing. For the most part, you can find friends to associate with your love for fishing. Maybe you can even join a fisherfolk group and do meetups twice a month. That is, if you're not autistic, or even not have societal anxiety issues not related to autism. Add autism to the equation, and to make the effort to reach out to just one person that is willing to listen about your love of fishing, is comparable to running the Boston Marathon. Barefoot. Unless you got game, good luck with that.

In the interest of time and annoyance, I will stop here. I hope this post helped shed some insight into what an autistic person experiences.

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