Autism, Creativity and Me

Myth – People with autism lack creativity

Some of the most creative people on the planet are known (or suspected) to have autism.

It’s a common myth that autistic people lack creativity. It is true that some have specific interests and struggle with abstract concepts but that’s all part of seeing the world in a different way. In every area of the arts you will find people who have autism.

This study was published last year.

For the study, researchers looked at responses from 312 people – 75 of whom had a diagnosis of autism.

Participants of the study took the Alternative Uses Test where they were asked to think about uses for an everyday item such as a paper clip or a brick. This test is used to measure divergent thinking –Β  a thought process or method used to generate creative ideas by exploring many possible solutions.

In line with previous research (which showed that people with autism score lower in these tests) it found that while they came up with fewer responses, the ones they did come up with were more unusual and creative compared to non-autistic people who commonly saw an alternative use for a brick as being a weapon or a door stop.

It highlights that autistic people are able to think ‘outside the box’ and come up with ideas that are incredibly creative.

Iris Grace

Iris Grace expresses herself through art. Her paintings have been sold to private art collectors here in the UK and all over the world.

What’s special about Iris?

Well, she is six years old and autistic.

http://irisgracepainting.com/

Iris’s life changed when she met Thula the cat in 2014. Animals often have the power to reach the autistic child in a way that no human can…It is truly a heart-warming story.

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The Boy

The Boy struggles with creativity art and crafts wise. He will only draw what interests him and 95% of his drawings are of stick-people whereas most of his peers’ drawings are more detailed and formed which is appropriate for his age group. Having said that, Katie from the hilarious http://hurrahforgin.com/ draws stick-people and she’s doing quite well from it, as did Lancashire lad L. S Lowry!

The Boy draws his obsessions and those obsessions started with numbers. He had a habit of drawing stick- people with their ages above their head which made me wish I’d knocked a few years off myself. Opportunity missed there, methinks!

His current obsessions is Ninjago and owls.

Being used to his stick drawings I was absolutely delighted when he produced this at Christmas..

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The Owl Babies

The Boy first became obsessed with owls two years ago when The Owl Babies was read out in his class at school. He fell in love with ‘Bill’ because he’s the smallest and cutest. The teachers soon realised that owls were the answer to keeping him calm or providing comfort when he went into meltdown so they provided him with one to keep on his desk. Fabulous, eh?

Such is his love for these creatures that he was able to produce this beautiful picture which we’ve now framed. I know what effort it must have taken for him to do it and I couldn’t be prouder.

Art and Me

I’m creative person – a visual thinker and once upon a time I loved to draw.

My first work of art was to scribble all over my bedroom wall which really impressed Dad who’d just painted it. OOPS!

I was a crayon sniffer at school (is that weird?) and was fascinated by the variety of shades – my favourite being crimson. I like that word, crimson. It was the same shade my face used to go when I had to read out loud in class. *twitch*

Few subjects held my attention at school but art was one of them. I didn’t get the technical jargon and I’ve never stood with a pencil at arms length but I just loved being able to create something. It made school bearable but as we morphed into teenagers (therefore, gobshites) the art teacher became inept at controlling the class and in those last few years even art couldn’t provide me with respite from the bullying.

My love of art was inspired by Eldest Brother who was (and still is) a talented artist who reached A level standard. I admired him a lot and wanted to be like him, so I started to draw..

My art teacher said my work was OK but stylized. Cow.

I didn’t do very well at school. There were too many distractions of the sensory kind and an inability to perform under exam situations meant that I left with nothing to show for it. However, my art exam was done in a more relaxed atmosphere and I was able to produce work that I was proud of which ended being displayed on the wall. It was of a girl and it was an expression of myself and I was proud of it mainly because I achieved sod all else.

I don’t know what happened to that painting but it was in the same style as this one that I did a few years later.

80's Style

Obviously I was heavily influenced by the 80’s Not sure when I painted this…

Technically, it’s crap but that’s not what art is about to me. Art is expression. It’s looking at a blank canvas and creating something. In art, I found something that I wasn’t completely toss at and I liked how it made me feel.

I haven’t done any drawing or painting at all for eleven years. The only painting I do these days is up a ladder with a roller ha ha

Art is a good way of misfits, such as myself, to express themselves and for those like Iris Grace, it’s way of unlocking a silent world.

Maybe The Boy will develop a love of art and maybe he wont and either way it’s OK because I know he will find a way to express himself in whatever way is right for him.

β€œArt enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.”Thomas Merton – No Man is an Island

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20 thoughts on “Autism, Creativity and Me

  1. Your painting is fabulous! Was ‘stylised’ supposed to be an insult? How ridiculous – your talent is obvious! I love Damien’s owl babies too (we love that book) obviously artistic ability runs in the family. Reclaim it! Run with it! do it! xxx

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    • Thanks Maddy πŸ™‚ I think it came from my attempts at still life with my fruit in the bowl never quite looking real. no matter what she told me, it would always end up looking stylised lol. πŸ™‚ Xxx

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    • True and L.S Lowry was definitely stylized lol. The thing was that I didn’t want to draw bowls of fruit – that was boring. I wanted to draw faces. I almost always draw faces (had to make sure my spelling was spot on there lol)

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  2. I love that final quote, one of my favourites. Your painting is wonderful, and as you say, art is about expression and it is definitely a way to communicate. Thanks for the introduction to Iris Grace, what fabulous work. And, the owl babies, they are just fantastic, and show real talent. Wonderful! Thank you so much for sharing with #ThePrompt x

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  3. You know what? Even if no one else likes what you do, if it makes you happy, that’s a good thing. All these adult colouring books prove that there are a lot of people who yearn to be artistic. Your 80s style picture is how we all saw the world then, and the Owl Babies picture is perfect!

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  4. OMG Tracy…….your picture……you are like a stick of rock with 80’s written throughout its inside. That could be placed anywhere and most of the population would be able to date it. I can’t draw a bloody stick man, forgive me, a stick person! I’m not musical, in fact, me and creative are like chalk and cheese. I love how liberating a child can be with their art work (apart from me, never had it as a child neither) they draw what they see and believe from their heart. 2 great round blobs, eyes below the nose and arms coming out of the head, that’s the average drawing from a 3 year old of their mummy or nana and they see beauty…..how…..??? Maybe it’s because they are non-judgemental.
    I’ve heard previously of children on the autistic spectrum being very talented at various things before, music, numbers, artwork etc. I’ve got no letters behind my name but wonder on this subject, do you think it could be to do with the brains wiring. What isn’t wired up the way the world is kind of conformed to be seen as *normal* might allow the brain to excel at other more creative things……move over Einstein, I reckon I’m onto something here!
    Little mans owl picture is brilliant, as with dating your drawing, I knew exactly what book his picture was of, it was a favourite of all 3 of my children, yet none of them had even thought of doing the picture……..might have something to do with them seeing so much of their hard work being collected on a fortnightly basis by Mr Binman, sorry Mr or Mrs or Miss or Ms refuse collector!!!
    A great blog Tracy!
    Big loves 😘 πŸ’œπŸ’“πŸ’œxxxxxx

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    • LOL I am 80’s through and through, me. πŸ˜‰
      The thing with autism is that people have obsessions so they become very knowledgeable, more so than you’re average neurotypical person – simply because they HAVE to know every single thing to do with that subject. They live and breathe it but this only happens with things they are obsessed with. It is the way the brain is wired I guess…
      A great comment, Thank you lovely lady πŸ™‚ Xxxxx

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  5. Brilliant post and research can be manipulated to suit. You could critise the participants and how the research selected them. It is also only one article and it does not mean that the results are fact. I have done psychology degree and what I learnt is there is no concrete answers just maybes. It’s all grey (don’t ask me how I got through that degree). Creativity is subjective and can tough people in different ways. I love art did art history and art so I can confirm that autistic people are creative. I love the 80s inspired piece.
    Just to let you know I love smelling crayons too and still do haha
    X #spectrumSunday

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    • I’d bet that some of the most famous artists of our time have been on the spectrum. It’s all about trying to change people’s mindsets…
      Good to hear from a fellow crayon sniffer πŸ™‚ X

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  6. I love this! Whilst my son doesn’t really show any signs of creativity at the moment, who knows what the future holds for us. The boys picture is so cute and I am not surprised it is now in a frame, that must have been a very proud moment. And your painting is stunning. Art isn’t about black and white or right and wrong, as you say it is a way of expressing yourself. Maybe you should pick up paintbrush again?! πŸ™‚ Thank you for joining me on #spectrumsunday, I really hope to see you on the linky again this week xx

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    • Thanks Clare, it was an incredibly proud moment for me because he struggles with the creative stuff and I’d kind of resigned myself to him not being so but this proves what he’s capable of if the interest is there. I’ll defitely be joining in again. πŸ™‚ X

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