From animation to astronomy, from baking to board games, from coding to cooking – our community members have a whole spectrum of interests, hobbies, and passions:
Our hobbies, interests and passions are a vital part of our lives. They are our connection to the world and our refuge from it. They comfort us. They help us find community. And most of all, they just bring us immense joy.
We would like to share this joy with everybody for Neuro Pride 2022!
Explore our interest island below – and who knows, you might just leave with a new hobby of your own!
Table of Interests
My name is Mella and I’m nine.
I found out that I’m autistic a few months ago and have been using art to process how I feel about it and explore topics like unmasking, meltdowns and finding out I’m autistic later in life. Art has been one of the biggest interests of my life and how I process life in general. I did start off as a portrait artist using charcoal but nowadays, I typically use watercolours and acrylics for my paintings.
by Mx C Doyle
Let me set the scene: It’s Friday night, there is snacks and beverages, all your closest friends have gathered and there is a pile of games just waiting to be played. That is my idea of paradise. It always has been. Some of my earliest memories is of gaming: playing cards with my Granny, Battleship with my Dad and video games with my cousins.
I love all sort of games. I do think there is something for everyone. Honestly, just do a simple google search for types of games and you’ll get dozens of suggestions. My home is full of games such as board, cards, party, dice and video. They simply bring me joy, whether I’m playing solo, competitively or cooperatively I am just happy to be playing, full stop.
In recent years, I have especially enjoyed being able to play board games etc online through zoom and platforms with friends from all over Ireland. Though still, it can’t beat the feeling of physically playing a good game with nice pieces. The tactile experience increases my enjoyment. The weight of the pieces in my hand as I move across the board, fidgeting in-between turns and seeing the game unravel before my very eyes.
Over the years I have entered competitions, attended local meet ups, hosted online gaming events but still for me none of this beats a night in with friends and our favourite games.
To finish I would like to share a very small list of my favourite games with you:
- OK Play by Big Potatoe Games is the prefect game for throwing in my bag
- Kluster is great to induce quick sighs of frustration and laughter
- For solo puzzle play I love Kanoodle
- In terms of beauty I adore Evolution Climate
Hello. I’m ellif, and I am a Korean autist. I have difficulty selecting one of my many interests, but I decided to share my preference this year: cosplay.
I started my cosplay scene participation in 2000. At that time, cosplayers went to the relatively small dome. And they like to cosplay from the early morning to evening. I have a feeling that I am in a welcoming community. Unfortunately, my parents blocked me from buying cosplay costumes, so I had to keep photographing cosplay. Anyway, I wrote a cosplay book in 2019 and cannot escape from the cosplay community.
Cosplay is a hobby that disguises someone with other characters, especially in manga, anime, and game characters. According to Caillois, cosplay can be categorised as mimicry play, which means imitation. In ancient times, many people performed mysteries, representing the meaning of society. However, now we cannot experience a lot of mimicry activity: it has become a profession like drama actors. Therefore, cosplay activity is a restoration of imitation in social circumstances. For neurodivergent people, imitation is an excellent opportunity to start learning the neurotypical mind (I do not claim that the double empathy problem is not valid). Moreover, cosplay gives a flow experience, which helps their growth and self-development.
Indeed, cosplay also has disadvantages. Recently, cosplay was reorganised as a beauty-based culture industry. More cosplayers denote making fans and getting money from selling their images. Therefore, cosplay has become an image business, and cosplayers without proper costuming or appearance usually get critics from the fandom of cosplay images. Unfortunately, autistic people can be the target of them.
COVID-19 also affected the cosplay scene. From 2020, most cosplayers cannot go to events because the virus can be easily spread throughout the crowded place. Moreover, many cosplayers are neurotypical; therefore, they do not want to understand or communicate with us.
However, we can use cosplay positively. Because many neurodivergents who like manga and anime or Science fiction find the projecting place of their desires, cosplay can be their expression of interests. Also, cosplay is where non-linear relationships can be born, making our communities and societies fertile. Moreover, cosplay can be a social initiative for neurodivergent people.
I am sharing some photos of Korean cosplayers that could explain some of my experiences. If you are starting cosplay through this representation, it will be my pleasure. Thank you for listening.
Dinosaurs are one of the most popular interests among neurodivergents, and while some enjoy them purely for entertainment, others (me) spend countless hours doing in-depth scientific research about prehistoric life.
What I enjoy the most is paleoart (scientific reconstructions of prehistoric life), since I am an artist myself.
Once you start thinking about the anatomy of a creature, you realize just how much thought goes into seemingly simple things. One of the best examples are pronated wrists (ie. bunny hands) in raptors. Imagery from popular movies like Jurassic Park stay in the collective consciousness for a long time, despite there being mountains of evidence from decades ago that proves Velociraptors would not be able to hold their wrists like that, but would instead hold them flat with their palms facing their bodies.
Another big thing that is slowly becoming more accepted is feathers. We’ve had concrete fossil evidence of feathered dinosaurs since the 90s, just shortly after the release of the first Jurassic Park. Velociraptor was fully feathered, as were the fast running Gallimimus also seen in the franchise. We do not have evidence of T. rex feathers, but its close Chinese relative Yutyrannus was thoroughly fluffy.
Pterosaurs have also been discovered to be fluffy, except that their plumage seems to have evolved independently and was structurally simpler than a feather, more like an analogy to hair.
Overall, the bodies of most animals are a lot chunkier than they used to be depicted. A combination of large muscles, fat, skin and other tissue was often lacking or absent in vintage paleoart, as well as modern monstrosities such as Jurassic World.
What is not a dinosaur:
Pterosaurs are flying reptiles who share a common ancestor with dinosaurs. Pterodactyl is just one kind of pterosaur, like T. rex is one kind of dinosaur.
Dimetrodon is a synapsid and actually way closer related to mammals than to dinosaurs.
Mosasaurs are marine reptiles, more closely related to lizards than dinosaurs.
Mammoths and sabertooths are recently extinct mammals. Dinosaurs went extinct 66 million years ago (excluding birds).
Watch “Prehistoric Planet”
Follow Paleoartists like Julio Lacerda, Gabriel Ugueto, Joanna Kobierska, John Conway, Emily Willoughby
Dinosaur Paleobiology by Stephen L. Brusatte
by Hada Lily
by Anna McMahon
Gardening is important to me as a multiply neurodivergent person for a number of reasons. I find looking at plants and how they change through the year fascinating. The beautiful spring flowers make me smile. The variety of insects and birds that visit even such a small area is amazing.
I find the physical act of gardening very grounding and calming. When I am approaching sensory overwhelm the mindfully mindless act of pulling weeds or trimming branches calms my nervous system.
I grow veg on a small area of communal ground outside my house. It put life back into an area that was devoid of wildlife. Now there are wildflowers, birds and insects. I grow veg and herbs that nourish my other passion, cooking. It keeps me connected to the changing seasons as one crop ends and another starts to flourish.
Marja-Kristina wanted to travel back in time, and finally got a chance when she discovered re-enactment and historical costuming! She enjoys visiting historic houses while dressed in her finery with the other members of Irish Historical Costumers, and is also partial to a good battle. See more on Historical Costumers here.
MidJourney AI Art
Working with an AI to create art raises two main questions. The first is the more obvious one, is what the AI created actually your art, or just random pixels that happen to form something like a recognizable shape? The second question is, how do you even put the image in your head into words that a machine can understand? Machines have no concept of language. What is referred to as Natural Language Understanding is just a lot of probability, simply statistics, based on random words and sentences, randomly chosen by mining a platform like Twitter. This also creates an inherent bias in the machine’s concept of language. Natural Language Understanding does not take into account cultural backgrounds, individual thought processes, or neurodiversity. The machine will have a concept of language based on privileged societal groups.
In the end, when trying to tell a machine about art, you end up learning the machine’s language after all, and the idea of Artificial Intelligence remains just that, artificial.
Nature & Photography
My small Fuji has been my travel companion for almost a decade, but I’ve only started taking pictures more seriously around 4 years ago. I treated myself to a new mirrorless during the lockdown. Looking at old pictures makes me happy, especially now that we can’t travel. I have ‘poor mindsight’, so pictures help me keep the memory alive. It can also make me cringe because of how poor my photography skills used to be – but we all have to start somewhere and at least I’m aware of my progress.
What I enjoy most is street photography. There’s a certain lack of control over my subjects that fascinates me. I’ve been struggling with sensory overload and I often find it hard to be in busy places. Immersing myself in my interest helps me cope. Hyperfocusing on light, composition, subjects, and potential stories helps me tune out the noise, smells, and movement. A small camera works best for me, no need to buy and carry around a ton of fancy equipment.
Taking photos means I explore more, but I also stay in places longer and see what other people miss. It’s a way of being in the moment and connecting with people, even though I’m usually observing from a distance. I’m rather shy and don’t want to bother anyone. This way, I often fail to capture Cartier-Bresson’s famous ‘decisive moment’. So my goal is to become a bit braver in my interactions. Summer should be a good time for that!
by Paula H.
My name is Paula and I have loved reading and listening to stories and poetry since I was very young. Authors such as Roald Dahl and C.S Lewis were among my favourites. It wasn’t long before I was creating my own stories right out of my imagination, inspired of course by all the wonderful stories I was soaking up. Especially Irish Celtic Mythology. Somewhere in a dusty box under the stairs is a collection of old stories along with some illustrations by yours truly.
When we were growing up, I used to tell these stories to my brother and cousins and the tradition continued with my son and nieces. Encouraged by a friend a few years ago, I joined a local writers group. I joined because I was training to become a children’s yoga teacher at the time and I felt that it would help me with the storytelling element of the job. However, to my surprise, it became so much more.
Thanks to our wonderful facilitator and the exercises they gave us I was able to tap into the storyteller and the poet inside me. I find that writing is therapeutic, cathartic and a source of joy. My poetry is deeply personal and is connected to how I feel and how I experience the world. My stories, though many of them have an element of fantasy in them, are essentially about human nature, us at our worst, our best and variables in between. It is my hope someday that I will be brave enough to put a collection of my poetry and stories together and publish them.
For now I would like to share with you an extract from my latest story, should you choose to read it I hope that you will enjoy it.
What I enjoy about video games is the escapism, the ability to leave this world when it becomes too much, to immerse yourself in a fantasy world, to take part in imagination and creativity especially in RPG games, to imagine yourself in this world or how you or another version of yourself would interact with it.
On a more personal note, I have always struggled with making friends. Playing online has helped me find it easy to get on with people. I suppose that comes from having a common interest and there is less judgement of physical appearance and people I find are more open and accepting of difference.
Video games are an art form like any other such as painting – they provide a space for creativity, for sound design, world creation, writing scripts and characters, allowing a space for people to come together and to learn, grow and expand knowledge of the LGBTQ+ community and Neurodivergents to be able to create stories that everyone can feel represented in.
It allows for a community of like-minded people to come together, to support each other in their lives. There are enough examples of video game fans being very charitable towards good causes and doing good deeds for those in their community.
Representation of various different groups is also an important point, disabled and neurodivergent people, the LGBTQ+ community and other groups, how these are represented and if people from those communities voice them is also another thing to consider.
Accessibility of consoles and game design is essential, the way a controller is made the games are designed and how the features are understood and played and how accessible the industry is in getting job access and how work environments and staff are towards neurodivergent people.
The games can help with hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills which as someone with dyspraxia is something I struggle with and I also believe that they can have a positive impact on mental health in bringing people together who value and support each other.
What interest brings you joy, excitement, or comfort? If you want to share your story here, please email us a short text (max 300 words), a few photos (max 5), and/or a video (max 5 min).
All Neurodivergent people are welcome to contribute. It doesn’t matter how long you have had your interest or how much you know about it – if it brings you joy, we want to hear about it!
Parents/legal guardians can submit on behalf of their ND children, if their child agrees to sharing their interest.