It is sometimes said that autistic people lack creativity and imagination. This statement simply isn’t true. In fact, autistic people`s minds can sometimes be the most creative around. Sometimes people with autism will struggle when it comes to understanding what other people are thinking; somebody might ask them how a certain situation will make another person feel, and they won’t know. Some people wrongly see this as lacking in creativity, but it is not creativity that is required here – neuro-typical people don’t creatively imagine what other people are feeling, they know it instinctively.
One reason why autistic people aren’t given credit for being creative is that they simply can’t express their ideas. There are many stories of somebody with autism beginning to write, or picking up a paintbrush or musical instrument, and discovering they have a talent. This doesn’t have to be a savant talent, where they are better than anybody else in the world. It can simply be a talent that they have to work hard at, but it allows them to be creative never-the- less. Some autistic people are very good at creating fantasy worlds and stories in their heads, and these are often more detailed, and structured than the ones other people may create.
To suggest that nobody with autism is creative is an incredibly broad, and insulting statement to make – it ties in with the offensive stereo-type of someone with autism being almost machine-like in their movements, and thought processes. There are tests where a person with autism will be given a handful of objects, and be asked to come up with a story around those objects. They might fail this, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t take creative photographs or paint, or even do something such as dance? Why does one small test devised by neuro-typical people determine the creative abilities, and resources of an entire section of society? This test may not only be used to gauge whether a person is creative, but unfortunately some neuro-typical people take from the results of the test that not only has the autistic person failed to create a story in that instance, but that they are completely incapable of creating stories.
There are creative people in every group in society. It would be just as unfair to write that autistic people are more creative than neuro-typical people as it would if that were reversed. But there is without doubt a strand of creativity present throughout many autistic people. A simple scroll through Twitter will reveal many paintings and photographs created by autistic people. The talent is undeniable, but also the creativity to come up with the ideas in the first place. Creativity of any sort in an incredibly positive attribute for anybody – autistic or not – and should always be encouraged.
Something that needs to be said is that people, whether autistic or not, are all different. Whenever something in the articles refers to people with autism, it means many autistic people, and not all. Also, every positive trait in this series of articles has been put forward by multiple people with autism for inclusion. There is so much negative coverage of autism in the media that most autistic people want to see some representation of the positive aspects that it can bring to their lives.
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