Spintastic: A Selection of “Special” Interests Curated for You

This post was originally published on AutLoud.ie, a blog by Autistic people in Ireland, which was merged into NeuroPride.ie in March 2022.

Spintastic - SPINs from AutLoud

SPINs are our special interests, activities and topics that spark joy and fascination. The background to Spintastic is explained in this post.  Spintastic is AutLouds answer to the myth that Autistic people have restricted, repetitive interests.  The Sunday Word Cloud record below shows hundred of SPINs collected in just one online discussion. Restricted, we think not. 

This week we will be featuring one SPIN each day in this post. We will not stop here though, we plan to build a SPINs library. If you have an image of your SPIN that you would like to submit for our library then let us know.

SPIN: Autpad Word Cloud
Spins Word Cloud layered over the image of a record. The main words highlighted are Art, Books, Autism, Music, Cats, Love, Board Games, Fantasy, Property and Politics.


This word cloud is based on a single SPINs discussion from the Autistic Paddies Facebook Group. It features over 200 SPINs from approximately 50 members. Thats a lot of Autie Joy.

Read our post on this here

SPIN: Fantasy Novels
Image of a set of paperback novels, all from the fantasy genres. Two examples of the authors are Trudi Canavan and Brandon Sanderson


Jonks’ interest in fantasy novels started with Tolkien at the young age of 6 and never stopped. The rich descriptions in the genre are the perfect balance to Aphantasia. A perfect escape, and a perfect SPIN.

Read a little more on Jonks’ Story

SPIN: Sketching Doodles
Picture is of an E-ink table showing a large graphical sketch. Random Doodles really.


Sally Anne started sketching on margins in school, to aid  her concentration. She didn’t know it back then but actually it was a stim! Copies, books, desks and arms. Always patterns & swirls, it has grown to a SPIN.

Read a little more on Sally Annes’ Story

SPIN: Historical Costuming
SPIN image, showing MK dressed in three period costumes


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. 

SPIN: Photography
Image containing three colourful photographs, street photography


For Jo photography helps to keep memories alive. Taking photos offers a way to be in the moment and connecting with people, albeit from a distance. It is all about light, composition, and stories. Telling stories through images. 

Read a little more of Jos’ Story

SPIN: Jigsaws
Spintastic - Image of shelves of jigsaw puzzles


Rachel loves jigsaws. Talking about deep focus as autistic strength she says “try talking to me when I’m crocheting or working on a jigsaw. I won’t even know you are there!”. With over 50 Jigsaws she will admit “I guess it’s a SPIN for me ”.  These are definitely the right type of puzzle pieces.

SPIN: PaperCraft
Spintastic - Mandy - Papercrafts - shows a series of flowers made of paper (intricate and colourful) and a light box showing a moon casting the shadow of a stag on a pool of water


For Mandy, this is a Spin that resultis in some serious artworks. So much colour and pattern and beauty. You can almost feel how tactile these are by looking at a photo. It’s also an excellent example of how a SPIN has the potential to become part of ‘adulting’. Something for all of our community to consider. 

AutLoud Special Interest Zone
Purple rectangle with the words "Special Interests" surrounded by items, camera, books, games, tech. Decorative


We are opening a whole section of our site dedicated to autistic interests and creativity. You can check it out at the Creative Corner. A key section there is SPINs. You can learn more about these SPINs, and others, and contribute your own. (UPDATE 2022: We have replaced the SPIN Zone with our ‘Interest Island’ to be inclusive of all Neurodivergences.)

Share Your Spin

We would love to hear about your SPIN or SPINs. So share them with us on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter!

The Stories Behind Some of the Spins

Fantasy Novels
Jonks' Story

Since following Frodo to Mordor at age 6, to escaping through the wardrobe by age 9 and living through interesting times in my early teens fantasy books have provided me with escape, with wonder and with a way of (strangely) making sense of the world. I have aphantasia (an inability to form mental images, I think in words, not pictures – actually very common in neurodivergent people) which may seem incongruous. How can I enjoy fantasy and world building if I can’t picture them? But the descriptive language used in most fantasy is exactly why I love the genre. Fantasy books gave a quiet, overwhelmed and ostracized girl a chance to find her tribe and a love that’s lasted a lifetime.

Sketching Doodles
Sally Anne's Story

I used to find it hard to concentrate in school. To help me concentrate I started sketching little doodles on the margins of my copy books, then my textbooks. Occasionally on an arm or a desk. The teachers never tried to stop me. It always suprises me. I was a very academically minded student and I think that is why they left me alone most of the time.

I didn’t realise it then but in hindsight it was clearly a stim. I used it to regulate myself, so that I could focus appropriately on what was going on. It regulated my mind and my environment. Always similar patterns & swirls, black and white, blue and white. Colours from whatever biros I was using. There were more colours at the start of each school year before I lost the red and green ones! The habit never really stopped, it came to secondary school, then college, then to work. It has grown over the years. Now it happens on an e-ink pad, so is only every black, grey and white.

Sketching these doodles is now both a SPIN and a Stim. Is it Picasso? No, but it sure brings me a lot of #AutieJoy.

Joana's Story

My small Fuji has been my travel companion for almost a decade, but I’ve only started taking pictures more seriously around 3 years ago. 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.

What I enjoy most is street photography. I’ve been struggling with sensory overload and I often find it hard to be in busy places. 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!

Sally Anne is an autistic academic, mentor, and mother. Her interests are her family, her books, the housing market, the environment and tech. She is recently diagnosed (though had suspected for a while). Through this blog she wants to connect with the autistic community and understand herself better. She believes in “knowledge for knowledge’s sake” and if she finds a button, she will need to press it!

Sally Anne

Sally Anne is an autistic academic, mentor, and mother. Her interests are her family, her books, the housing market, the environment and tech. She is recently diagnosed (though had suspected for a while). Through this blog she wants to connect with the autistic community and understand herself better. She believes in “knowledge for knowledge’s sake” and if she finds a button, she will need to press it!