While autism and related disorders impact different individuals in different ways, many individuals with autism develop a special interest.

 

In fact, one study found that some 75-95% of autistic individuals have a special interest that often begins during childhood but sticks with them throughout their life.

 

Working to better understand your child’s special interests can help you provide them with support and guidance moving forward.

 

Understanding Autism: Special Interests

 

What is a special interest?

 

Special interests are best defined as “an intense focus on specific topics.” For example, if given the opportunity, your child may dedicate all their free time to this interest or bring it up in conversation at every opportunity.

 

Why do children with autism develop special interests?

 

Various research studies are dedicated to understanding why children with autism may develop special interests. For example, some researchers believe that “young children with autism may experience greater rewards from non-social stimuli than social stimuli, causing them to turn to special interests rather than social contact.

 

Alternatively, their passion may be grounding, providing them with a sense of structure – which is something that many autistic individuals favor.

 

What are common special interests for individuals with autism?

 

Children with autism and related disorders may develop a special interest in a range of topics. However, some tend to be more popular than others. This includes:

 

What are the benefits of special interests?

 

There are many benefits associated with allowing your child to explore their special interests and passions. For example, they can:

 

 

As such, you should support your child with their passions as much as possible, so long as they are not becoming problematic. For example, try not to shut down any conversations about their special interest, even if they’ve been talking at length. Instead, show you care by asking plenty of questions.

 

When can special interests present a problem?

 

Special interests are somewhat narrow. This means that in some instances, they can become restrictive and consuming, meaning that children withdraw from other opportunities to pursue them. This can sometimes be challenging for both the child and those around them.

 

As such, you must encourage your child to develop various hobbies and interests. For example, sign them up for extracurricular clubs and activities that broaden their horizons.

 

You can make this seem more exciting for your child by trying to choose hobbies that complement their special interests. For example, if they have developed a special interest in Film & TV, you could encourage them to try writing their own stories, join a film club or even learn about cameras and how they work.

 

You may also want to discuss your child’s particular interest with their therapist, who can suggest other interventive methods to limit its hold over your child.

 

If you’d like to find out more or would like to meet one of our qualified, friendly therapists, please do not hesitate to get in touch today.

Any questions? Give us a call!

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