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Here is a quote from an article on Wikipedia on Asperger's Syndrome:

People with Asperger syndrome often display restricted or specialized interests, such as this boy's interest in stacking cans.

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As far as I know, the word "restricted" has two meanings in English: the first one is "forbidden" and the second one is "limited to a certain area or field".

Obviously, here it's not the first meaning.

But then I am not sure I understand how the second meaning works here. I mean an interest is by definition something limited to a certain field, isn't it?

For example, if I am interested in pop-music, than it is just natural that I don't have a similar degree of interest toward other fields like, say, culinary and photography.

In fact, if my interest were not limited to those fields that I am curious about and were equally distributed among all fields instead, then it would look more like I had not particular interest toward anything at all!

So, is the term "restricted interest" not redundant?

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If your interest in pop music is to the exclusion of all else, yes, it's restricted. Most people have many and varied interests.

Restricted interests are not just not being interested in everything but being interested in just about nothing.

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  • “If your interest in pop music is to the exclusion of all else, yes, it's restricted” – But, having read, through this whole wiki article, I can’t say that it means the “exclusion of all else”. Do you think stacking cans is the only interest in life that the boy on the picture has? I don’t think so. At least, I don’t gather that idea from that article. – brilliant Jun 6 at 6:12
  • “Restricted interests are not just not being interested in everything but being interested in just about nothing.” – I don’t see much logic in this statement. The boy on the picture has at least an interest in stacking cans. How is it “being interested in just about nothing” then? – brilliant Jun 6 at 6:12
  • An interest in pop music is not restricted, but if you had an obsession with one band or singer to the exclusion of all others, that would be a restricted interest. – Kate Bunting Jun 6 at 8:08
  • @KateBunting - What do you mean by "exclusion of all others"? If I have an interest toward only one girl and want exactly her to become my wife and, thus, exclude all others from being a candidate to be my wife, would this also then be a case of restricted interest? If to the question "What's your favorite animal?" I name only one animal and, thus, exclude all other animals from being my favorite, will it be the case of restricted interest? Is that really that abnormal to have only one favorite animal or to have only one hobby? – brilliant Jun 6 at 9:10
  • Of course the concept doesn't apply to choosing a spouse or naming a favourite. A person who is 'interested in pop music' normally enjoys listening to a variety of different performers. I was trying to explain that an autistic person's interest would only be regarded as 'restricted' if, for example, they insisted on only ever listening to one artist. – Kate Bunting Jun 6 at 11:09

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