Unusual Interests: Calendar Calculation and More #AtoZChallenge

Welcome to day 21 in the #AtoZChallenge. Today, I will be writing about my unusual interests. You see, like many autistic people, I tend to have interests that are intense and unusual in focus.

As a child, I was advanced for my age in math. When I was around six, my father taught me to do square and squareroot calculations. He used a set of squares (which were really computer chips) to teach me, laying three in one row and then squaring it to nine. I loved this.

When I was eight and the kids in my class were doing multiplication tables, this would be boring to me, as I had all tables from one to twelve memorized already. To make the activity useful for me anyway, I chose to start with the table of nineteen. Don’t ask me why I skipped thirteen to eighteen, but I did.

When I was a bit older still, I taught myself to do calendar calculation. Most people not familiar with autism I encounter have never even heard of that skill, which is a common savant skill in autistics. It involves calculating on what day a certain date falls. Usually, this skill is presumed to be memory-based, but I actually knew the rules for doing it. I also learned about the change from Julian to Gregorian calendar in 1582 and took those ten days that were skipped into account when working with dates before then. I have a newspaper article from late 1999, which I still treasure, titled something like “the fight about time” in Dutch. It explained why the year 4000, unlike other centennial years divisible by 400, shouldn’t be a leap year. How fascinating!

Later, I developed other “unusual” special interests. For example, I used to draw maps when I was around ten or eleven. I always drew Italy, though I knew a lot about topography in general.

When I was in the psychiatric hospital and touring potential supported housing places, I had no idea about their location, except which trains and buses to use to get there. I wasn’t as good with topography anymore. I at one point had most bus routes in my province memorized from Wikipedia.

4 thoughts on “Unusual Interests: Calendar Calculation and More #AtoZChallenge

  1. Astrid:

    So why shouldn’t 4000 be a leap year?

    13 and 17 are primes, so is 19. The others you can double and that may be good for recipes and food energy. And other things; but those are two most immediately applicable.

    And 19 is what someone might hit a lot on the dartboard! So *19 is useful there.

    Square roots with computer chips! That would have the synapses buzzing about.

    Yes, lots of people know the rules for calendar calculation. I never quite got that far.

    I will say it was a bit annoying when Antonia Fraser forgot the Julian/Gregorian gaps for the times in Mary Queen of Scots’ life and put all the dates in English form.

    It’s cool to learn about different calendar systems for religions/countries.

    Oliver Sacks has talked about rules and logic for savant talent and he talked about it an architectural/structural way. Like Martin and his love for Bach and how he understood cathedral music and opera.

    There were some twins who remembered things that happened and the weather connected with a particular date. [George and Charles/John and Michael]

    Some of Sacks’ connections knew something about modular arithmetic which may explain about 4000 and why it shouldn’t be a leap year.

    And I know some people who draw imaginary maps of imaginary places.

    Italy and the boot and the rocks [Sardinia and Sicily].

    People would always ask me maths questions. Especially about square roots.

    Again – the route learning.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The year 4000 shouldn’t be a leap year because there is still a slight deviation in our calendar from the solar calendar. By sometime around 4000, the deviation is one day.


  2. This is a very intriguing ability that you have, I only know one guy who can do calendar calcullation and he is also blind and on the spectrum, a bit of a coincidence haha, but he didn’t go as far as before the gregorian calendar, that’s impressive you can do this for me especially because I am absolutely clueless about math even the pretty basic stuff.:D Don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned that to you but I was suspected to have some form of autism and one of the things that drew people to this conclusion when I was a child (apart from my dislike of socialising and all my weird and intense interests etc. etc. ) was that I’ve had an ability to remember strange details about things. And at one point I just kind of accidentally learned all the name days in the calendar (we celebrate name days in Poland and each name has its own day(s) and most usual calendars include them). I was just sitting in my room at the boarding school kind of bored and didn’t have anything to or do, wanted to read something to at least appear that I’m doing something constructive but the only readable thing that I had was a calendar, so I just took it and read it like a book and at some point I just realised that I remember all of those name days. haha that was crazy. It was also rather annoying though later on because when I told people about that they would ask me all the time about different names and when their name days are and my family would constantly want t show off with me about that as if it was the only thing I could do. 😀 So I’m kind of glad that now I don’t remember most of that, however that seemed to be the thing that started off my passion for names in a way.

    Liked by 1 person

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