Infodumping: Autistic Love Language

Is there something that makes you feel passionate? Autistically passionate? Something you could read about or do every day, consuming as much information about it as you can? Experimenting with it as much as you can? Is there something that you could talk to somebody about for hours?

Many autistic people develop one or more Special Interests, which we fixate on as the most beautiful thing or things that life can offer us. We voraciously consume any information we can find having to do with our Special Interest(s), and play with it in new ways however we can think of.

My earliest memories of trying to make friends with other people is me talking for hours in class about my favourite Nintendo game in grade 3, Donkey Kong 64. I did not want to talk about anything except Donkey Kong 64. I did not want to do anything except play Donkey Kong 64. I had trouble making friends because I could not think of anything else to say, and I was subject to a lot of teasing in school because of it. While my Special Interests have shifted over time, this way of communicating with people, talking for hours about this one subject that the other person probably does not care to hear about, has been my socialization.

When I learned more about autism in my adulthood, I learned that this is such a common part of autistic communication that we have developed a slang word for it: Infodumping. Infodumping is when an autistic person exhausts all of the information about a focused topic that they know of. To me, Infodumping is a love language; not only professing the love I have for a certain topic, I am also risking the rejection that comes with hearing somebody that I admire tell me that my favourite thing is meaningless to them, because I want to develop a connection with that person and this is my hamfisted attempt at developing that connection.

My autistic pride advocacy means that I need to develop connections with many other autistics, to build our community of pride and to work together on projects to promote autism acceptance. I have found that a great way to break ice between myself and a fellow autistic that I need to partner with on a project is to get an Infodump session out. We give each other one or two minutes to spill as much information about our favourite thing as we can, and then we listen to the other person spend one or two minutes spilling out as much information as possible about their favourite thing. This game has worked wonderfully because it requires no setup or supplies, and it can be done in person, over the phone (yikes!), or online. It is a disclosure of our autistic identities that gets seen by the other person, and accepted. Bringing our Special Interests with us and showing them off with pride establishes a space where our autistic selves can be shown off with pride.

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