Expanding our Language in Relation to Autistic “Special Interests”

The client's SPINs are IMPORTANT to the client. This cannot be overstated. SPINs are the vehicle by which the client can engage in meditation and healing. Allistics (people who are not autistic) tend to see SPINs as obsessions and think of them as an unhealthy focus, but this is what brings us joy. A lot of autistic trauma comes from allistics telling us that our interests don't matter. But, to an autistic person, our SPINs are an inseparable part of our identity. We ARE what we love. To accept us is to accept our SPINs. An allistic may not understand an autistic’s SPINs, but the allistic MUST accept them and be enthusiastic in learning about them. That enthusiasm helps us bond socially in an autistic way, and that is a big part of autistic interpersonal therapy.   I think it would be hard to improve on Matt Lowry’s description above of the vital importance of “Special Interests” or “SPINs” in the life of an autistic person (and

Without Autonomy, It’s Not Therapy

Back in the 1980s, in my first full-time job after college, I worked as a house parent and trainer with intellectually disabled adults. I loved the work and the people I worked with. (I’ve always loved working with outsiders, people on the margins of society; probably, in retrospect, because I’m autistic).   One incident that stuck in my mind (though there were many similar ones) happened when I was working in the garden with some of the clients and a more senior colleague. My colleague was someone who I admired as a role model, because she showed genuine respect for the people we worked with, treating them as equals and truly wanting the best for them. One of the young men working with us in the garden that day (I’ll call him Pat) had a very gentle nature, too gentle sometimes, and we used to encourage him to stand up for himself more, so as not to get taken advantage of. That day, two of the senior managers came to visit and look around the location where we were working. They