Can you have Asperger's without a 'special interest'?

When I was diagnosed I was told that I had either high functioning autism or Asperger's. The official letter I received stated that my diagnosis was Asperger's. I don't have a special interest that I obsess over though. Well not that I can think of. Do you have to have one if you have Asperger's? Thanks

  • The archetypal person with ASD has a special interest or obsession or repetitive interests or behaviours. However, people with ASD vary enormously. “If you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism,” Dr. Stephen Shore. i.e. we are all remarkably different and we actually don't reall conform to any stereotypes.

    To get a diagnosis you will have exhibited the so-called triad of problems with

    • difficulty with social communication
    • difficulty with social interaction
    • difficulty with social imagination

    You must have suffered from these issues to get diagnosed.

    Why are you worried about this?

  • Thanks for your reply. I just an anxious person. I was diagnosed last year and sent on my merry way with no support or anyone to answer my questions. 

  • It is a question of degree, and I think it is a characteristic but not necessarily to the extent often cited.

    Some people are reported to have special interests but they change frequently. Some have very narrow, rigid interests, others have broader interests that could be mistaken for just an enquiring mind. Sometimes the impression lies in what people talk about all the time, which might not be reflected in day to day activity.

    Consider the factors that may underlie such behaviour:

    Ability to focus on a subject and study in depth

    Safe zones, where the subject is a comfort and escape

    Routine and rigidity

    Lack of social referencing, whereby interests are otherwise directed by those of others

    Something to do because you are not doing everything NTs do.

    Some people have very narrow focussed interests that concern NTs over much because they see it as harmful. The interests can include computer games, which NTs confuse with computer aptitude, and games with numbers, which is not an aptitude for mathematics.

    But another aspect is 'spikey profile' where you have strong interests and abilities and awkward gaps

    The major impact of narrow focussed interests and spikey profile is difficulty finding a job or obtaining sufficient breadth or usefulness of qualifications. Otherwise if someone is happy that way.....

    But I also have a theory it can change, if people are moved out of their comfort zone sufficiently to acquire wider interests, early on. But that doesn't mean I condone some of the interventions to try to brainwash it out of kids' systems.

    I collected and obsessed over shiny metal and glass objects for years, bits out of old clocks, old cameras, stuff from rubbish in waste land, interesting pebbles etc., I still have some of them But I'm spikey profile, with interests that adapt to a degree, sufficient to have survived. My main problem is I get so overawed by the detail I cannot see the broad facts that NTs pick up on immediately.

    Just a pity we cannot live in a society where the NTs work with us to use both ways of thinking, rather than trying to make us like them. Most of scientific progress and knowledge depended on narrow focussed researchers who strived endlessly for detailed clues NTs usually don't have time for.

    I don't think the NT world is more right. Just different

  • Well, Longman says it all so I won't repeat it just for the sake of doing so.

    I do have a special interest, but then so do many people - they're called 'lifelong hobbies'. In our case, what some of us do is find a subject and go into the minutest detail, but once we've done that we can lose interest completely, because we've filed the information away in our heads.

    'Special interest' could take minutes, hours, days or forever - it's about the process, not the longevity.

  • Thanks to you all. I have a better understanding now of what it means. I think I do have 'special interests' but they change with time and aren't life long. I do talk about my dog way too much.

    Merry Christmas x

  • The closest thing I have to a 'special interest' is my extensive knowledge about guinea pigs, but I think that's something different because I don't actively research them unless there's something particular I think I could do with knowing in order to provide good care for my own guinea pigs. The times I did that just accumulated, and I suddenly realised I could answer a lot of questions about them. Another reason why I think it's different is that there's something right now I think I should find out, but it's not high on my list of priorities and I don't know when I'll actually look it up.

  • I wasn't diagnosed with Asperger's but Autism (2/3rds) and don't have special interests.

    They included that into the assessments and I didn't come out with anything and apparently if have a special interest that you will talk about it no matter how shy or something.  I actually didn't volunteer - not through any deliberateness just the question didn't trigger revealing that information I think, all my habits as such and only afterwards I am perhaps thinking may be the one thing is down to autism. I have done this from a very young age and I guess the nearest I can publically say it is the strimming is that what it called?

    In the follow up that I had I was surpised to learn that a person doesn't have to have the special interest/hobby for very long. They can change what it is. But I still dont think i have a special interest/hobby in those terms.

  • I don't have a special interest, but I have had "phases" of special interests all my life. Sometimes it is a series of books, sometimes it is a subject, sometimes it is a TV show (and sometimes it's a couple of those things). I still got a diganosis of AS.

  • i got diagnosed with autism because i had 'special interests' for brief periods as a kid, for instance i was very into dolls at one time, another into dogs

  • No, you don't have to tick every box. You may have a special interest which is a 'normal' part of your life such as your job so you may not notice it or you simply may not have one at all.