Early in the wake of my diagnosis, I’d realized that a sort of introvert’s toolkit had functioned to mitigate or accommodate some of the challenges of being autistic without knowing it. I’ve come back to this idea since, often when trying to understand how in the world I ever withstood the onslaught that is San Diego Comic-Con.

Just this week, I suddenly had another revelation. Back when I was coming to realize that I’m also dealing with developmental coordination disorder, I’d thought again about Comic-Con. I’d become pretty adept at making good time across the show floor—which if you’ve ever attended you know frequently is packed nearly solid. Yet I could rapidly navigate from one end to the other with nary an incident.


The answer, it turns out, is hyperfocus.

This hadn’t occurred to me previously because I’ve only ever been aware of hyperfocus in the context of more sedentary creative activities such as when I was doing original political reporting via blog, or when I had a heavy out-and-about photography hobby. I’d neither experienced nor seen anyone talk about hyperfocus in a more physical context.

There’s no question: when I needed to make it across the show floor (usually in order to take a break over near the California Browncoats booth, which functioned as my sort of home base during the convention), an attention tunnel formed around both my spatial awareness, and my motor control and coordination.

Like most instances of hyperfocus, it wasn’t sustainable, and it came with a (frequently high) cost in spoons. The whole thing makes sense, as what was happening in fact still was mental in nature, but still I’m surprised I’ve never run into people talking about this sort of physicalized hyperfocus.

Referring posts: Combination Plate