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Asperger’s and Creativity Part 3

[Continued from Asperger’s and Creativity Part 2]

Quirks and creativity

Scott Barry KaufmanScott Barry Kaufman, a cognitive psychologist at NYU interested in intelligence and creativity development, commented in a post of his:

“I think a lot of things that we call ‘quirks’, or maybe even some things we call ‘disabilities’, can turn out to be some of the determinants of high levels of creativity that we never could plan ahead of time.”

From Conversations on Creativity with Darold Treffert, Part I: Defining Autism, Savantism, and Genius.

[Photo from his video “Creativity” – see a clip in my post Don’t You Have To Be “Gifted and Talented” To Be Creative?]

In his book Ungifted: Intelligence Redefined, Kaufman writes about many aspects of the syndrome, and notes that people with Asperger’s tend to do “exceptionally well on perceptual tests of fluid reasoning, such as the Raven’s progressive matrices test.”

He thinks, “Perhaps their enhanced ability to consciously detect nonverbal patterns is due to their spared working memory functions, fascination with order and structure, and enhanced perceptual abilities. These are all questions ripe for further research.”

He also refers to research by Mary Ann Winter-Messiers on “the impact of special interest areas (SIAs) among children with Asperger’s syndrome. She defined special interest areas as ‘passions that capture the mind, heart, time, and attention of individuals with AS [Asperger’s syndrome], providing the lens through which they view the world.’

“Her research team interviewed 2 girls and 21 boys with Asperger’s syndrome (aged 7 to 21) about their special interest areas. All of the participants talked enthusiastically about their areas at length and displayed extensive professional knowledge of their area that went way beyond what would be expected based solely on their ages.

“Major themes included transportation, music, animals, solitary sports (such as swimming), video games (such as role-playing games), fantasy motion pictures (Star Wars, vampire movies), woodworking, and art (Anime, Manga, sculpting). Many children used video games as a way to socially bond with others with similar interests.”

Felicia Day-TheGuildIf you have ever seen a video of a Star Wars or Star Trek convention, you have probably seen many people, often in costume, with this kind of passionate enthusiasm.

Photo: Actor, writer and producer Felicia Day in costume for her web series The Guild, a show loosely based on her life as a gamer. She says, “I have a little obsessive-compulsive personality. You can tell because I played online games for eight hours a day. I have a very focused personality. I spent years not doing anything because I was inhibited.”

She was accepted to Juilliard but chose to attend the University of Texas on a full scholarship and double majored in math and music performance.

From post: Felicia Day on developing multiple talents.

Kaufman also refers to Daniel Tammet as “an extraordinary adult with Asperger’s syndrome.” In my post Savant abilities and learning differences relate to developing multiple talents, I note that Tammet thinks his astounding abilities are not due to some cerebral or genetic fluke, but based on an associative form of thinking and imagination.

He thinks differences between savant and non-savant minds have been exaggerated, to the detriment of how most of us value our own abilities and develop our talents. “Every brain is amazing,” he commented.

Positives about being an “Aspie”

This is an excerpt from a longer video of that title by Maja Toudal, a singer/songwriter from Denmark.

[For her video channel, she uses the name “TheAnMish.”] [Also see her Facebook page.]

[Disregard “Suggested clips” – those are added automatically by the clipping software. Click “See more” for the original video.]

Also see her article Aspie or NT? The Pros and Cons of Acting Neurotypical.

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More Resources


Wrong Planet

Take The AQ Test [Wired mag.] – “Psychologist Simon Baron-Cohen and his colleagues at Cambridge’s Autism Research Centre have created the Autism-Spectrum Quotient, or AQ, as a measure of the extent of autistic traits in adults.” This is a self-scoring test with 50 questions.

Here is a screenshot of the first few questions – Don’t these look like they would fit for the traits of high sensitivity, or introversion?

AQ Test sample

Artists with Asperger’s [Facebook]

HeART of the Spectrum [Facebook]

A.S.P.E.N. (Asperger Syndrome Education Network)  [Facebook]

Documentary film: Arts: A Film About Possibilities, Disabilities and the Arts.


Ungifted: Intelligence Redefined by Scott Barry Kaufman, PhD

Mozart and the Whale: An Asperger’s Love Story by Jerry Newport, Mary Newport. The title “comes from the costumes they wore to a Halloween party: Willy the Whale for Jerry, and Mozart’s sister, Maria Anna Mozart, for Mary.”

Genesis of Artistic Creativity: Asperger’s Syndrome and the Arts by Michael Fitzgerald – an “exploration of the lives of 21 famous writers, philosophers, musicians and painters including George Orwell, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Andy Warhol and many others, in light of the recognized criteria for diagnosis of high-functioning autism and Asperger’s Syndrome (AS).”

Asperger’s Syndrome: A Guide for Parents and Professionals by Tony Attwood.

Parallel Play by Tim Page – “An affecting memoir of life as a boy who didn’t know he had Asperger’s syndrome until he became a man.”


Asperger’s Disorder: Clearly bright and imaginative – and autistic

The Geek Syndrome (from WIRED magazine), by Steve Silberman – “Autism – and its milder cousin Asperger’s syndrome – is surging among the children of Silicon Valley.”

Are You On It? By Benjamin Wallace, New York Magazine. “On the Asperger’s community site Wrong Planet, threads like ‘Real life celebrities who have or probably have Asperger’s’ include Jim Carrey, Daryl Hannah, Slash, Billy Joel, J. K. Rowling… ‘Kanye Probably Has Asperger’s,’ BuzzFeed recently declared… David Byrne said: ‘I was a peculiar young man—borderline Asperger’s, I would guess.’”

What Asperger’s syndrome has done for us by Megan Lane, BBC News Online Magazine – “Informed speculation that Michelangelo might have had Asperger’s syndrome is just that – the Renaissance artist was never diagnosed in his lifetime. But two medical experts have drawn this conclusion from studying contemporary accounts of the artist’s behaviour…It’s a theory which has been rubbished by art historians, but which has piqued the interest of Eileen Hopkins, of the National Autistic Society. The artist’s meticulously observed figures and high work rate resonate with such a diagnosis.”

Famous Faces: Daryl Hannah – “Known for her performances in Splash, Blade Runner, and Steel Magnolias, Daryl is also one of the few Hollywood stars to speak openly about having Asperger’s Syndrome.”

Brain Differences and Creativity

More Autism and Asperger’s articles.

Claire Danes and Temple Grandin on Autism and thinking differently.

Q&A: Temple Grandin on the Autistic Brain by Maia Szalavitz. – Temple Grandin comments, “There definitely are some strengths. You see, there’s a point where mild autism is just a personality variation. There’s no black and white dividing line between autism and non-autism from the mild end of the spectrum. And some people on the mild end of the spectrum have extreme talent areas in things like computer programming, mathematics, art, design, graphics, writing skills…”

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>> You can see this full article: Asperger’s and Creativity as a PDF on Scribd.


Asperger’s and Creativity Part 3

Douglas Eby

Douglas EbyDouglas Eby, MA/Psychology, is a writer and researcher on psychology and personal development related to creativity; creator of the , and author of books including [link to book site with excerpts.]
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Some excerpts from The Creative Mind are included in his newsletter .
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APA Reference
Eby, D. (2013). Asperger’s and Creativity Part 3. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 20, 2020, from


Last updated: 8 Aug 2013
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