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?