Monotropism is a theory around autism that, unusually, originates with an autistic theorist – Dinah Murray. It continues to have its greatest support and development from autistic people – which is a great starting point, in my view.

I will come back and write more on this when I’ve researched more but I must say, this is the first theory around autism that really excites me, because I so strongly relate to it.

Monotropism, perhaps because of its originator’s neurotype, doesn’t portray autism as a disorder, a fault or a lack of what we should have in our heads. At the centre of monotropism is what, for me, makes me incredibly lucky and it’s the reason I wouldn’t want to be any different. It is the ability to focus entirely on one thing to the exclusion of all else. That could be, and often is, a special interest: a research project, decorating a house, a form of art, gardening, our animals – literally anything. What is so wonderful, is that we feel the need to know everything about something that lights our fire. Everything. The lecturers at my university frequently commented that they learnt a lot from my undergraduate essays! Little did they know that I’d spent weeks trying to condense 20,000 words into a 2500 word piece of work! That’s because I made it my business to research and research and research – from every possible angle, and in greater and greater depth. It’s such an amazing experience – there’s no more fulfilling, calming and all-consuming sensation, for me. And when you’re in a state of flow you cannot imagine being able to ever tear yourself away.

My husband will say, “I told you all of this last night” – I look at him blankly. I was away in one of my glorious flow states last night, locked into my current fascinating and addictive project – The Gentle Autistic, of course! There are many, many areas that interest me and they will ebb and flow. I know that I will return to each one over time but I also know that I can’t do any of them justice, or even find my way into them, unless all of the other special interests (and rubbish daily grinds) take a step back and let me lock on to this one. When I am in the flow, all the perseveration, all the anxiety, the constant snacking, the pacing, the fretting – it all falls away. I am completely content.

I have just described my version of what it feels like to be monotropic.

If you identify with this, or if it feels vaguely familiar, I would encourage you to read beyond my monologue! A great place to start is

Another really good article on the BPS website is from Fergus Murray – autist and the original theorist’s son. You’ll find his article Me and Monotropism: A Unified Theory of Autism here.