‘Programming was my life’
One characteristic of autism is having ‘special interests’ and some of the activities people described enjoying could be interpreted as special interests. Interests could be categorised into a love of nature, arts and technology.
Most people enjoyed and were fascinated by or even obsessed with computers. Daniel said, ‘I have to say, probably most sort of leisure time is spent sort of fannying around on the computer’ while Richard, ‘an obsessive games player’ played games for as long as he could.
Steven thinks people on the spectrum like computers because they are safe and predictable.
Harriet describes the pleasure she gets from technology, science, driving, tennis and her allotment.
Photography and computers are Jamie’s areas of ‘strong interest.
Duncan enjoys War Hammer and computer games and likes the structure and process.
Tom enjoys going out and playing computer games.
Peter liked slapstick comedy and thought he would get on with Ken Dodd like a house on fire. Some people were also interested in trains and buses, especially vintage buses.
Howard and Barbara discuss Howard’s enjoyment of train simulators and train journeys.
Some people were very creative and enjoyed drawing, writing poetry and photography. Other interests included cycling, reading and live theatre, music and films. Tim, for example, runs 20 miles a day and cycles over 70 miles on Sunday mornings while Alex enjoys art and watching films from her collection of over 500 DVDs. John L enjoys supporting local football teams with a group of friends: ‘Just having a laugh, having a sing-song, telling a few jokes and not taking things seriously, that sort of stuff. So, you know, seeing friends and people and just doing simple, ordinary things’.
Stephen loves drawing, listening to music and watching films.
Luke likes music and going to gigs though coping with the crowds was a challenge at first.
Daniel enjoys writing and recording music and writes songs with a friend who also has Asperger…
Nicola talks about the music she likes and how she loves Disney films.
One woman said that she didn’t do much in her leisure time other than watch television and DVDs, and surf the internet. She did not go out ‘except to walk the dogs. I don’t really have a life compared to other people’. Several other participants talked about their love for animals and enjoyed walking their dogs. A few participants were regular churchgoers and found comfort in their faith. As Debbie said;
‘I like the internet and email. I like doing cross stitch and knitting and I do that sort of thing to raise money for charity. And I am a committed born again Christian. I have a relationship with god and I attend a church in the next village to where I live several times a week.’
A couple of people reflected on the popularity of their interests.