an intelligent but single-minded person obsessed with a nonsocial hobby or pursuit
My name is J.R. and I’m a nerd. This isn’t a new revelation to me and probably not to those who have known me for a while. I will say one thing about the definition above and that’s that I don’t believe it has to be a nonsocial hobby or pursuit. Don’t believe me? What about all the Dungeons & Dragons nerds out there? They’re being social, just with their own type.
People on the autism spectrum, especially high functioning autistics (HFA’s) like me, tend to get focused on one or two things, often to the point where it becomes an obsession. Sometimes that’s good and other times, not so much. Usually not so much.
For more than twenty years I played and coached ice hockey. When I was coaching I coached at every level from Learn To Play classes, to weekly skill clinics to youth recreational leagues to travel teams to high school. Generally, I coached at least three teams at a time and my record, including tournament teams, was eight teams at one time. If that isn’t focusing on one thing and ignoring everything else, I don’t know what is.
Almost a year ago I moved from the sensory overload that is Southern California to the quiet and peacefulness of lakes, trees, and moonshine that is the Ozarks and I love it. I knew I would be giving up coaching and playing, but I was ready for something new and more relaxing in my life. What I didn’t consider was the fact that I would probably need to find another thing for me to hyper-focus on.
A few months after moving here I met the owners of Comic Force, my local comic book shop and my inner nerd found what it had been looking for. It had literally been years since I had been in a comic book store and not only is this one cool (check out the floor in the pic on the right), but it was like nerd-vana.
I had no idea that comic books had become such a huge thing and had no clue of just how many new characters there were, such as The Amazing Squirrel Girl (which I refuse to pick up and look at because it just sounds lame). As soon as I saw that Squirrel Girl cover about fifteen nut jokes immediately went through my brain.
I also found that DC has taken some of their most beloved characters and changed them up a bit for modern times as well as took some and made them very retro as is the case with a series I enjoy, DC’s Bombshells, a hip, cool version of Wonder Woman, Supergirl and other female heroines and villains teaming up to fight for justice during World War II.
After my head stopped spinning from all the selections they had, I looked around and finally found some titles that I was interested in. I bought a few, and being a typical Aspie and spending hours on the tablet/computer doing research on characters, story arcs, new titles coming out and various series. After doing that I found that I had more female comic book characters I was interested in than male characters, something I probably need to talk with my psychiatrist about.
I guess as autistic obsessions go, comic books are pretty low level as far as being weird, scary or strange and very high level on the nerd scale. To be fair, I do have comic books that feature male characters such as Green Lantern, Green Arrow, Doctor Strange, Deadpool and Ant-Man & The Wasp, which technically is a guy and a girl, but for this argument, at least it’s got a male character listed first.
Representing the estrogen-powered superheroes in my collection are the Bombshells, Batgirl, Wonder Woman and Black Widow. I guess you could call me an equal opportunity comic book nerd.
“J.R.,” you ask. “Is there a point to all this or are you just talking about comic books?”
I do have a point and that’s that as high functioning autistics, Aspies or whatever you want to call us, we generally get hyper-focused on something and, as long as it’s not porn, meth or something else harmful or potentially harmful, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The neurotypicals (non-autistics) in our lives may not understand these things and may even call them obsessions, but they’re not obsessions. They’re part of who we are and they’re part of the autistic traits that so many of us have.
What we as people on the spectrum need to realize is that not everyone in our lives is going to be interested in what we get caught up in and we have to understand that because we naturally want to share our knowledge with others. Yes, the majority of us are naturally afraid of social situations, but when we find people that are like-minded and share our same interests, we can make friends both on and off the spectrum and that’s a good thing.
As much as we think we want to be alone, we really don’t. So my challenge to all my fellow autistic nerds is to go out there this week and whether it be comic books or something else, try and find one person you can connect with and become friends with. When we find others that share our passions and interests, life is better.
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An Asperger’s Guide To Dating Neurotypicals is out and hit #23 on the Amazon Hot New Dating Releases Chart. You can find it on Amazon and Kindle or get an autographed copy for the same price at the J.R. Reed Author website.
Before I go, I belong to a closed Facebook group, Aspergers Life Support, run by some terrific people. There’s a link on the right or you can click on the words in blue. If you have Aspergers or are a loving NT of an Aspie, I definitely suggest asking to join the group. They’re great people and have helped me on many occasions.
Photos courtesy Purple Chin Media/J.R. Reed