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“How many more times are we going to watch the same Star Wars movie?” I asked my brother. I couldn’t believe he wanted to watch the same movie again. He had been fixated on Star Wars for the past two weeks and spent his free time rewatching the movies and reviewing the fan pages online. I couldn’t understand how someone could become so engrossed in such little time. I now realize that this interest had a lot to do with my brother’s autism.

This hyper fixation has always fascinated me. As a child, I was envious of the passion with which he dissected every ounce of the material for a topic. I would see how a love for the movie Star Wars could morph into knowledge of every single character’s name, life, and story.

For me, my interests were more simple. I could never delve as deep, care as much, or try as hard to uncover every bit of information about one topic. I often felt like there was something wrong with me because of this, that I should have cared more about the things I professed to be interested in. But as I have grown older, I can see that my brother’s hyper fixation stems more from anxiety and the need for something to hold onto that isn’t related to the real world. I can see how an obsession with characters that are not real can promote an image of life that is not healthy—that is diluted with falsity and imagination. I never took the step back to realize that my annoyance with my brother over his interests likely caused him to hide behind them even more. To go on and on about Star Wars was so much easier than having to talk about real life and real problems.

Although this hyper fixation stemmed from a lot of anxiety about the real world, I also think that it is something that can be admired. Not many people can be so passionate, so caring, and so interested in one thing that it consumes them. I think that my brother’s brain may burst one day from everything that he knows. From his various hobbies and his Star Wars obsession, to a fixation on politics, U.S. history, and civil rights.

My brother’s interests, and his fixation on them, make him out to be one of the smartest people I know. In fact, his autism has propelled him to excel in school; to dive deep and be so engrossed in his learning that the world falls away. Autism looks different on every person. Everyone has a different story, and my brother’s story is wrought with his passion, love for life, and commitment to the people and things that he loves.

Kate K. is a 17-year-old senior in high school and would like to major in psychology in college. In her free time, she enjoys playing tennis, doing yoga, and hanging out with friends. She is also the middle child between two autistic siblings. Her passion for writing has led her to start this blog, as well as her desire to spread awareness on neurodivergent families and how autism impacts family life. She hopes that her story can help others in similar situations learn to love and appreciate themselves and their families just how they are.