Creative Autism

What is it about creativity and the autistic brain? I don’t like generalising about autism, we’re all so ridiculously different, but creativity is a theme that comes up often.

Creativity in the arts, in science, in mathematics, in music, in the written word, in building, in gardening, in so much more.

There’s no correlation with intelligence or ability or any kind of functioning, it’s just some kind of intrinsic need to put things together and make something new. To problem solve. To pour our brains into a mould and make a never-seen-before shape.

I’d been having a hard time. I was feeling frustrated about not being good at getting my voice out there. I was feeling belittled and ignored and restricted. I had a long list of people I wanted to contact for good reason, for something I believe in. Then I looked up at all those balls I was suddenly juggling and they all came crashing down.

I blamed myself for not being stronger. I barely spoke in real life. All words were noise and pain and broke through in jolts and screeches.

I was putting all I had into communicating. It was distracting me from life. It was taking too much, and all I could think was, “Other people can do this easily”, which didn’t help. Those comparisons never help. Not even with other autistics. I don’t think I have limits, except when I’m at that limit, staring it in the face.

My limits are changeable, they often reach much further, but right now they don’t and I’m coming around to accepting that.

Then I realised I hadn’t been creative for a while. My creations are many. Someone asked me if I had any special interests last week, I threw a few around, but said they were very changeable. Later my husband asked me why I hadn’t mentioned writing. “Writing? Writing isn’t any kind of interest, writing is a need.” And I laughed, because the term “special interest” is patronising and belittling, and so it made perfect sense that I had never applied it to my greatest passion.

I like to do all sorts, I like to do needle-felting, I like to felt owls and penguins and robins, I like to make rainbow cakes, I like to make origami flowers, I like to paint with oils and acrylics, I like to pencil sketch the human form, I have just started a pottery class and love squishing clay, I like to do all forms of DIY from electrical to woodworking to just hitting things with sledgehammers.

DIY has been my shelter this week. Planning and measuring and problem solving and drilling and sawing and sanding. I have a project-driven house, it’s perfect. This week has given me a new slate windowsill from an old offcut of Welsh slate left in the garden for the lichens.

More importantly it’s given me peace and purpose. I was missing my creativity. I had placed my focus on something that drained me.

I am a creative Jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none type. I need it so much more than it needs me.

Creativity is a powerful force for keeping me balanced. Sometimes I forget that. I notice something is missing long before I work out what it is.

Compulsory creativity might be my way forwards. It’s not a special interest, it’s a fundamental need.

Now isn’t that a functional plan?

8 thoughts on “Creative Autism

  1. So true. I’ve not been well for a long time, diagnosted this summer with ‎fatigue syndrome, and I didn’t realise untill some week ago that I hadn’t been creativ in years. Sure I have been knitting but only following patterns – not made my own. No card making or weaving for years. It’s not what made me sick, but it should have alarmed me that something was wrong. But I cut it out of my life so I would have energy to work. Cause you should always put you jobb first as my boss put it. I say bulls**t. I think that every person, autistic or NT, need to be creative in one way or another. Or many! I think it’s a basic need in all of us that in our “modern” life has been shut down. It’s something people did back then in the old days… But more and more people are finding that it helps, there is even reports on how good it is for us. Stressreducing and more.
    So be proud of your creativity and if it, somehow, is a autistic thing – then it’s something that NT:s need to learn from you.

    Liked by 6 people

    1. Definitely! And certainly not restricted to autistics either. I think we all have different ways of being creative and all need to indulge it.

      Yes to you being more important than work, and yes to not doing things being a huge warning sign too. Those of us with less energy to spare need to prioritise the things that will energise us.

      Liked by 4 people

  2. ‘To put things together and make something new’ – absolutely! I tell my students to focus on this to improve their creativity. We make new innovative products by finding alternative ways of using existing objects and by learning to see links and connections where other people don’t. Exactly the sorts of things that my 4yo autistic boy is already doing. I’d be interested in any recommendations re autism and creativity anyone can share. Thanks for the post!


  3. I love this. As adults we sometimes feel the need to find a reason to be creative – a birthday gift or something for the home…why not be creative for the fun of it. No ‘end product’ necessary. I solve my most doifficult problems when I’m not thinking about them and doing something creative 💛

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Exactly. Often when you have less energy you can end up only doing the essentials and getting drained more and more. Prioritising things that actually make you happy and give your brain breathing space, can end up leaving you more energised.

      It’s so important for me to remember that!

      Liked by 2 people

  4. I find that I have always been creative. I have a vision or idea of how I want to do something and get very frustrated if I can’t master or complete it. Some ideas are outside my skill set. Roller-skating and cinematography are two things that I can’t do. Photography and making stretch bracelets are and they do become obsessive. If your last sentence is true, perhaps my next psychiatrist can write me an RX for a certain US news anchor♥

    Liked by 1 person

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