Code is a former minor special interest of mine, meaning I can do it if I need to, but unless I hit obsession mode, I won’t be able to do anything super productive with said activity. It’s no longer what an allistic person may refer to as a “hobby”, but rather a special interest I loved, then grew burnt out of after too many meltdowns over issues caused by brackets or, simply enough, my inability to fully understand code.
See, I understand code from a distance, but if you ask me to explain the
include() function, I can’t properly articulate its purpose or what it does. I blame my PTSD, but I also feel it might be related to autistic regression in some ways, because I’ve been coding longer than I have been blogging…and I don’t personally believe autistic regression is only social and verbal skills.
I could also have lost the lot of my coding knowledge because I don’t totally care for it anymore. It happened, I grew too frustrated, I had meltdowns, and I eventually didn’t understand the point in trying to continue coding anymore, because it soon become a special interest no longer.
However, I still code on occasion, but it typically has to be on my own terms and without pressure. I also still appreciate it—I simply lack full-on interest in coding myself.
How I learned to code
I grew up around IT stuff because my mother’s husband was so involved in it, but I also feel lucky to have been part of a generation and community so committed to offer students so many opportunities.
I had my first website when I was in fifth grade. Granted, it was a sub-directory, but I considered it the coolest thing.
In sixth grade, I had MatMice and DiaryLand accounts. I’d fiddled around with Neopets, but only for the games; I was a member of a guild, but I didn’t do much beyond playing Neopets for the Neopets game, whereas other self-taught coders seem to have learned via Neopets.
Both middle schools I attended (Dessau (6th grade) and Westview (7-8th)) let Girlstart come to the school and teach girls various skills necessary in life, in addition to other things—mentor us, encourage us to push limits and follow our dreams, and so on. In either sixth or seventh grade, there was an HTML/CSS segment, which allowed us to create our own websites through a Girlstart.org student portal. Because I quickly finished all the lessons and set up my own page, I was told to go around and help the others, because not everyone was understanding the language as quickly as I did.
Toward the end of eighth grade, I had a Xanga account and had twiddled, but then abandoned, a MySpace account.
In ninth grade, I decided to return to MySpace after becoming BFFs with Leigh, who basically got me into designing layouts through MySpace. I abandoned Xanga for a long while before returning during the middle of ninth grade to create layouts there as well.
I’d had my own domains here and there, but I never had actual control of any of them, or knowledge of what to do with them, until late 2009—when everything really began. February 2010, I registered 6birds.net and truly/officially became a blogger.
For a while, I created my own themes and layouts for various projects. I created a news hack for MyTCG, my own URL shortener (before throwing it all away and going to Bitly), and so on.
Special interests come and go. This one never took on a major role on the special interest scale, so it’s nowhere on it now.
How did you learn to code? Alternatively, have you ever loved to do something a lot and then one day realised you didn’t like it anymore?
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You sorta know how I learned to code. I first learned on Neopets, then I branched out and had a page on MatMice that was just full of cute animated gifs. XD I moved to Freewebs to have more of a ‘site’ and not just a page. It took me a while to explore how a basic layout was created and how `div`s worked – then I got the hang of it and tried to build something super simple myself.
I built layouts myself for a long time, and I didn’t really blog – I had an updates section on my blog. I liked the type of layout that took up a certain amount of screen space, with a smaller area on the layout somewhere for the content. I liked those cute small ones – they were my style. It wasn’t until just before I got Heartdrops.org (my first domain, in 2008) that I tried to make a layout where the height of the page was not restricted. That was the way I went going ahead, usually with a simple header and the content underneath, navigation somewhere under the header or in a sidebar.
I think I just fell into web development, as you know. I don’t do a lot on the side anymore, since I do a lot at work, but I really like being able to have the ability to do something fun on the side. Which reminds me, I definitely have to get back to working on your theme. 😉 😉
I basically learned to code around the same time you did (middle school). I basically improved my skills by looking at other people’s coding and also with w3schools. I’ve always been an Internet freak.
For your second question, I’ve had that happen to me a lot with food and also a few tv shows, books, etc.