Special interests ground many autistics. We use our hyperfocus on these specific passions to regulate. Even more, when we connect to these interests, we experience unrivaled joy. Yet, many spectrumites also go through dry spells with out interests, leaving us bereft and adrift. How can we regrow and cultivate our interests when we suddenly feel as though our passions have wilted?
1) Embrace the time off. We cannot force ourselves to hyperfocus Sometimes, the more a person tries to make something happen, the harder it gets. Remember: Some autistics don’t have special interests at all. No longer having a special interest does not make an autie less autistic.
2) Find a new special interest. Perhaps the brain and body is attempting tell us to try something new. Without our special interest to fill up our freetime, we have space to tap into new experiences. Turn on a show that you’ve wanted to watch but never had the time. Test out a new hobby. Read a book from a different fandom. Turn on a different genre of music. You might be surprised by how the brain could latch on to different stimuli. P.S. By beginning a new interest, we are not betraying our old passions.
3) Reconnect through active participation. While this might take some auties out of their comfort zone, if we get out and meet other people who love what we love, we can rekindle our passions. Attend a convention, go to a live show, take a virtual class, or join a book club. When we encounter our interests in a communal way, the excitement of being understood can spark newfound joy.
How many special interests do you dabble in each year? I usually cycle between around three: two old favorites, and one unexpected new interest.