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  • Riley Jay Sironen

Staying Hydrated using Special Interests

Updated: Dec 1, 2022

As I’ve been unmasking*, I’ve had fun exploring what I consider my special interests** and things I like. It’s so freeing and calming to spend time looking at, researching, and spending time with these interests.

One way I have decided to incorporate my special interests into my daily routine is by purchasing a water bottle (in this case, I bought a Hydro Flask as it keeps drinks cold for a very long time, and that’s important to me) and placing vinyl stickers on it to 1) make me smile and happy even on a rough day and 2) to remind me to drink more water.

In the images, you’ll see my special interests and likes, including my babies (the Australian Cattle Dog, Sophie, the Orange Tiger Tabby, Swanson, the Tuxedo Cat, Casper, and the Bichon Frise, Kayla), Pokemon, tigers, Animal Crossing, Star Wars, Beaver Island, Nintendo Switch, and Spiderman.

What are your special interests or topics/interests that you like? How do you incorporate them into your daily routine?

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*Unmasking/Masking: "Autistic masking, camouflaging, or compensating is a conscious or unconscious suppression of natural autistic responses. It is hiding or controlling behaviors associated with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) that may be viewed as inappropriate in situations. Autistic people may feel the need to present or perform social behaviors that are considered neurotypical or may hide neurodiverse behaviors in order to be accepted and fit in." (What is autistic masking? - Autism Awareness Centre)

**Special Interest: I recommend reading What's so special about special interests? for a better understanding or using Google. In short, special interests are seen as a way for neurodivergent people to understand the world and people better. They use their special interests to help them stimulate emotion and feelings when feeling under or overwhelmed. Additionally, they may use it as a tool to communicate with others (as opposed to small talk). Special interests are more than a hobby or something someone likes. A neurodivergent person often spends lots of time (and sometimes lots of money) on their particular interest. This can last months, years, or a lifetime.

[Image Description: All images are of Riley's Hydro Flask water bottle filled with stickers representing his special interests and things he likes.

Image 1: Stickers of a hand-drawn image of a bichon frise with a purple background, a tuxedo kitten, and a Nintendo Switch with an Animal Crossing-style palm tree coming out of the screen.

Image 2: Stickers of Spiderman (upper body only) doing a peace sign with one hand, a hand-drawn image of a tiger sleeping on a log in the forest with a waterfall in the background.

Image 3: Stickers of a red Australian Cattle Dog (aka a Red Healer), Rey from Star Wars, words that say "Today is Great" in rainbow lettering with a picture of a smiling, half sun, and a hand-drawn, sleeping orange tabby.

Image 4: Stickers of a silhouette of Beaver Island, and it says "Beaver Island" in cursive on the outline, a Pokeball-style terrarium with a sleeping Bulbasaur inside, and a smiling tiger with a flower crown.]


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