One aspects of my life that causes some consternation is, I think, a relatively simple one. I do not seem to have any consuming passions.
They are things I like, and things that I am interested in but almost all, family aside, I could probably survive without.
One of the features, or symptoms of Asperger’s Syndrome is: “Intense, repetitive or obsessive interest in ordinary or narrow topics like trains, baseball statistics, snakes or train schedules that may otherwise fail to capture the interests of normal people”. Leaving the slightly problematic use of the word “normal” to one side, after all what is normal for you is not normal for me and what is normal for Jeff Dahmer is not normal for either of us, I do not think I have any “intense, repetitive or obsessive” interests in anything. Especially nothing that could be classed as “narrow”. My interests are quite broad. For example, I like reading about history but feel like I forget most things. I like to football but I could not and would not talk about a player’s particular statistics for a season. I do like reading but won’t talk at length about books, unless I am being paid to or are in the company of people who are doing the same. I like Shakespeare but don’t read or watch the plays often and cannot find anything interesting in most of the comedies. Though, I probably should look into them. I like Lee Child’s Jack Reacher books but couldn’t tell you loads of intricate details about each book.
I watch people on the TV and they spout statistics, facts, and dates, they quote and they refer, they answer questions about esoteric minutiae of a topic and I do not and I cannot. Does this mean that I am, as I often wonder, not actually (or apparently) autistic? Is the spectrum wide enough for me to say, well no, I don’t really care or love any topic into such detail that could be described as “intense, repetitive or obsessive”. I really couldn’t go on Mastermind about anything. My general knowledge is good but, given the job I do, it should be. I would be worried if an educator didn’t have a good general knowledge. If I do not have an interest in something then I find it incredibly difficult to muster the effort, but isn’t that “normal”? Can other people fully focus on tasks that they find boring? Or are they able to tune everything out in order to get it done. I have worked in administration before and I couldn’t quieten my mind sufficiently to focus on all the small details. I would make simple mistakes or be called “feather brained”. It also caused my mood to crash as I would fail because I couldn’t focus. I couldn’t focus because I was bored. Because I was bored, I failed. Was this because of an undiagnosed autism or was it because I didn’t try hard enough?
I see other educators online and they are arguing over techniques, pedagogy and whether or not an author used the correct transitive verb and so on and I just don’t care that much. When I am in front of class then I care. When I am planning a lesson, I care. But I don’t spend all my time thinking about grammar or Shakespeare or pedagogy.
This could, of course, be due to an elongated period of depression (itself a symptom) which means I find it hard to recognise the things that I am passionate about. It could also be that I am a male from a certain generation and lack the emotional intelligence to spot it. Or could it be that the “difficulty or inability to empathize or understand the feelings, thoughts and emotions of others” extends to myself.
I do not know and others maybe able to tell me. Who knows? Because I sure as hell don’t.