One of the most fascinating aspects of the autism spectrum is the development of unique interests.
Unique Examples • The Avogadro lunar crater • Scottish tartans • Dead-end streets • National anthems of the world • World Wrestling Federation • Circuit breakers • WWII battles • Civil War battles
Cultivating Special Interests Can … • Lead to a career • Lead to lifelong friendships • Increase peer appreciation • Be a window into the person’s unique learning style • Motivate the person to participate in less enjoyable subjects given a “reward” to work on special interest
Your student might not understand that everyone is not interested in the same thing as she is. Most people appreciate gentle and respectful honesty. Let the student know when and how long she can talk about her special interest.
Ideas for Expanding on Special Interests • Google the interest and look for professionals in a related field. • Explore what is needed to become a professional in a given area. • Expand on the topic: If it is trains, look at different train systems in different countries, then find out the different languages and cultures of the people in those countries. Explore maps of the countries with extensive railway systems.
More Ideas … • If you find professionals in the student’s area of interest, try using the Flat Stanley program (www.flatstanleyproject.com) to contact the person and ask polite questions. • If the student memorizes lists of things such as baseball stats, teach him to memorize other information. This could be a preferred learning style. • Show your student that you value his knowledge.