Friday, December 07, 2007

My Interests

This is my contribution to the current Disability Blog Carnival. The key phrase is 'a few of my favorite things' so I thought I might want to describe the history of my interests.
For those who don't know, a distictive (and diagnostic) characteristic of autistic people is unusual interests. Autistic people often have interests that are unusually intense (for example, spending most of your waking hours thinking about your interest), narrow (only 1-2 interests, the interests themselves often having a fairly narrow focus) and unusual (for example, a 14 year old researching rare syndromes). My interests fit all three of those criteria, although the narrow criteria is only barely met.
My first word was 'meowmi', which probably indicates my earliest interest - cats. When I was 3 months old, one of our cats had kittens, and for awhile in my infancy we had 5 cats. My parents gave one of the kittens away when she got old enough, so then we had 4 cats - 3 of which were highly child-appealing, playful kittens.
I also played with one toy, a shapesorter, obsessively for awhile. As soon as I'd figured out how to not only put the shapes in but also get them out without opening the container, I lost interest in that toy.
My interest in cats broadened into an interest in animals that refocused into an interest in the rainforest. My favorite country was Brazil, where the Amazon rainforest mostly is. I remember meeting a new pastor at our local church and telling him my toy monkey had come all the way from Brazil to meet him, and that he had a prehensile tail. I demonstrated this by tying the monkey's tail around my arm. The interest in the rainforest led to an interest in environmentalism, because every book and movie I saw about the rainforest emphasized how fast it was disappearing and how many species were being lost.
After reading Silverwing I decided my favorite animals were bats. My Dad says I told him that my favorite animals were bats, cats and dogs, to which he asked "in alphabetical order?" This fit into my interest in the rainforest pretty well. My best friend shared my interest in bats and for the Halloween party at school, we both appeared as bats! She's the same friend who made me a twist tye snake at one point and started my whole thing of making twist tye creatures.
I also developed an interest in genetic engineering and at one point said I wanted to be a scientist when I grew up. The kind I meant was a 'mad scientist' who creates weird creatures for no better reason than curiosity and interest.
Somewhere around that time I started reading the book series Animorphs and became obsessed by it. I insisted that it was real, that Yeerks were real. My school decided to try to stamp out this interest, which only made it stronger. I suppose I must've scared them by insisting it was true, but I didn't really believe it. I just wanted to believe it.
I also had an obsessive interest in black holes, sparked by the song Cygnus X-1 by Rush. This also led into an interested in the beginning of the universe, but I disappointed by the lack of facts about how it actually began. And the idea of alternate universes really appealed to me. After awhile I dropped that interest, but came back to it from another angle after reading The Subtle Knife.
My interest in environmentalism broadened after awhile into an interest in world problems, and I obsessed for awhile on famine and war in Africa. Then when my school gave us a 'say no to drugs' drug education thing I became obsessed with drug addiction. I was being badly bullied and was pretty depressed at this point, and in general when I'm depressed I think about societal problems and other unpleasant things.
I also watched a movie, the title of which I can't remember, in which some aliens tried to kidnap children as pets. I latched onto that idea and made many twist tye stories about that. In all of them, unlike the movie, the children actually were captured and were trying to deal with that somehow.
I developed an obsessive interest in languages after awhile. I had a Bengali babysitter and learnt Bengali when I was 1 year old, but later forgot it. I also attended French immersion from Kindergarten to grade 6. After awhile I decided I wanted to learn various other languages, but never stuck with one long enough to really learn it - except Dutch, which my father urged me to learn because his ancestry is Flemish. I'm not really fluent in Dutch, but if you speak it to me in short statements I understand most of it. After awhile I developed an interest in endangered languages, and in reaction to reading Lord of the Rings I became interested in invented languages. Because my Dad is a computer programmer, I also was interested in computer languages for awhile.
In reaction to a Disability Awareness day at school, I developed an obsessive interest in disabilities. I wandered around with my eyes closed, sometimes waving a stick around, begged my mother to let me ride in a wheelchair whenever I saw one unoccupied (she never let me), borrowed the crutches my parents had gotten from the doctor when my mother hurt her foot and never returned (my father now uses them when his undiagnosed arthritis-like joint condition acts up), and learnt Braille, fingerspelling and a little bit of ASL. I lost interest in disabilities after awhile, then returned to it when my mother wrote an article about a glue-sniffing mother that discussed FAS and I decided to research FAS. This led into researching autism, and recognizing myself in Temple Grandin's writings about autism, which led into searching for more stuff by autistic people, finding out about the autistic rights movement, and eventually getting diagnosed autistic.
Also, I developed an interested in the Creatures series, started when my mother bought me Creatures Adventures. This also rekindled my interest in computer languages because you can create your own add-ons. And it fulfilled my wish to be a 'mad scientist', in a way, because you can genetically engineer (gengineer) the creatures in these games.

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3 Comments:

Blogger shiva said...

I have shared quite a few of these perseverations: animals, the environment, fantasy fiction, parallel universes, languages, genetics, disabilities/impairments... like you, some were stages i passed through (but still retain a lot of "useless" knowledge about), others are interests which remain until the present day. I'll have to write a similar post for myself...

Who's hosting this Disability Blog Carnival?

8:53 AM  
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12:55 AM  
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12:55 AM  

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