Autistic Artists and Creatives

As a creative writer, I find that a handful of autism advocates dismiss the creativity of HFA/AS individuals as evidence that artists are "really" autistic. These critics suggest that the savants with autism are genuine, but not those of us with careers.

Yesterday, I ran across yet another mention of the "Shining Aspie" narrative, and how artists and educators with various diagnoses don't really represent "genuine" autism.

Are you an artist? A creative? (And aren't we all "creatives" to some extent?) How do you respond to claims that art, which is emotional and empathetic, represents autistic experiences?


  1. During the school year, I work with a group of high school teens who have Autism and I have to say, they are some of the best creative writers I've been around (I'm a writer, as well). They are very passionate about their writing and, just like any writer, do not like to not be taken seriously in their craft. They have to endure not just their peers, but also their teachers, tell them that they can't really be "creative", because of Autism. But I know this is not true; these students are amazing and would agree with you that creativity is an inherent quality in everyone. Thank you for this post!

  2. The whole thing about how autistic people are supposed to be all mathsy and logical and if you're creative or artsy you can't be on the spectrum makes me cross. I think that stereotype can make it harder for autistic people who don't fit the stereotype to get support or diagnosis, or even start to suspect they might be on the spectrum in the first place. (Years before I was diagnosed, I suspected I could have Aspergers but counted it out on the basis of my hopelessness with maths and science.)

    A while back I put together a list of creative people on the spectrum here, if it's of any use or interest:

  3. hi, I'm autistic and think it's because I'm logically / litetally minded (get headaches when trying to understand e.g. metaphor 'rich' poetry) that I first turned my artistic side to drawing
...I didn't have to worry about how people interpreted my portraits, because whether they liked them or not didn't affect the quality of my life, whereas talking and writing gave people more chances to find fault with me & hinder me than they did when I was quiet.

When I accidently found some poetry that I actually liked (because both the style and content made sense to me) I couldn't help but use poetry to express my was like a pressure valve had been opened.
I still didn't like the idea of being mis-interpreted though, so I spent years editing that first out-pouring, dictionary in one hand, thesaurus in the other ...which was a nightmare because my spelling was poor and my vocabulary below average ~ I'm dyslexic, and had some serious catching up to do.

Some people think I'm too critical of my work, but I know when my poems say exactly what I want them to say ...those people do not.
And I think my 'perfectionism' makes me a better editor and critic than some professionals, whose appreciation of the writing they proof-read is quite superficial. (JJ, London)


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