Pokémon & Neurodiversity


“[A special interest is] something that you're very passionate about and fixate a lot on, spend a lot of time with. Something you could talk to someone about until their ears fall off.”

Quote by Ira Eidle


Knitted hat with Pikachu and neurodiversity symbol

Image description: A knitted purple hat featuring various symbols. Facing the viewer is the Pikachu character from Pokémon and a silver infinity sign. Pokeballs and narwhals wrap around the hat and are only partially visible. The hat has a red cuffed brim.


Ira admitted he could talk to someone in general until their ears fell off, especially about Pokémon and neurodiversity – two of his major special interests. Though Ira’s a fan of video games in general, he described getting “hooked” on Pokémon, including the game, music, trading cards, and especially the Pokémon characters themselves. Ira explained, “Pokémon’s always kind of been a way for me to make sense of the world around me. … I think a lot of autistic people use special interests as metaphors for their lives.

Ira pointed out that while some people might associate autistic people with stereotypical interests such as trains and certain video games, they’d be less likely to think of things like knitting and autism itself as autistic interests. Ira has extensively researched autistic history for his website, Autistic Archive, and many of the design choices for this hat were informed by his research. In addition to the infinity symbol for neurodiversity, the narwhal came from the "Neurodivergent Narwhals" series of illustrations. Purple was Jim Sinclair’s (a foundational autistic activist) favorite color, and red relates to the “red instead” campaign as a counter against “lighting it up blue” for autism awareness.