Creativity: ASD Specialty
Meant to post this back in January, but time and stress got away from me. Finished it over lunch, so here it is!
All right, I’m not going to go into a huge list of dead people that everyone now thinks had Asperger’s / ASD because of what we know of their personality and history. That’s not the kind of thing I’m interested in discussing in my blog. Instead, this post is about my own creative undertakings, with a few mentions of things my ASD friends have done as well.
I’ve been hugely into creative expression since I was a wee one. My one or two friends when I was 4 / 5 got dragged into playing out stories I’d come up with, usually fantastical adventures. (I even did this with my cousins during my adolescence.) That graduated to the desire to become a writer by the time I was 8, and I’ve wanted to be a published SF / Fantasy novelist since I was in high school. (I specify “novelist” because the plots I come up with don’t suit short stories – they’re too big! Not to mention that the market has moved more and more towards novels and away from short stories….)
That dream has never ended, and I have an SF novel in re-write at the moment, as well as a fantasy one with beta-readers to see what actually needs re-writing / editing (since I can’t tell with that one). Once those get done, and go through a few more reviews by other people, I’ll be sending them out to publishers….
In the meantime, however, that hasn’t been the only creative outlet I’ve pursued. It’s the longest-lasting, my main dream, and what I intend to be a life-long avocation, but I’ve done other stuff as well.
Embroidery – specifically cross-stitching. Here is a craft where an ASD’s attention to detail and repetitive movements are a definite asset. You’re making the same motions over and over again, but by changing the colours of the thread, you’re creating a gorgeous picture. I love cross-stitching, and I don’t do it enough of late. I discovered it when I was in Gr. 6 – 11 or 12 – and it became a passion with me for a while. Like most topics that I’ve perseverated on at one time or another, I lost interest for a while, then picked it back up; the passion a bit milder, but steadier, which in turn means longer-lasting. I continue to cross-stitch intermittently, though the fact that we’re no longer allowed to bring even embroidery needles in carry-on luggage rather cut down on the amount of time I have spent doing it in the last several years. I used to take a 5+ hour flight from Toronto to Costa Rica and back every March, visiting my parents. It would have been perfect for that.
I’ve also done some rug-hooking, enough to know that I like it (and love some of the animal designs they have!), but not enough to actually complete one rug. *sighs* It’s a lot more intermittent than my cross-stitching, and suffers from being only a very mild interest.
Photography – particularly landscapes – is another love of mine. I’ve got a gorgeous image of the north shore of St. John’s with fog rolling in from the 4th floor of The Rooms, framed in our living room. I adore taking landscapes, and Newfoundland (AKA The Rock) gives me so much scope for that!
And that leads into 3-D Graphics. I started playing with 3-D graphics in the summer of 2009, using a program called DAZ|Studio. Got obsessed for a while, and I even did some materials for 3-D clothes for some figures, but I haven’t done much with it in a year or so. I’m planning to start getting back into it – just waiting to get my “main room” of my sub-basement “suite” set up so I can actually make use of my desk.
(You can always check out both some of my photos and my 3-D graphics on my deviantArt account….)
And then I went to a class at the Anna Templeton Centre here in St. John’s, and learned the basics of making necklaces (and bracelets and anklets) and earrings with wire as opposed to string, and beads, and I was in heaven. I’ve started making sets, but I haven’t done much on it since last fall – again, I’m really waiting until I have some space of my own that’s not my bedroom. (It makes a mess and is awkward doing it up in the living room or dining room, so irritates my parents – quite understandably.)
I’ve got two friends and one acquaintance who I know have ASD; and the acquaintance and one of the friends I met through writing fanfiction. We share at least a few fandoms in common (and the friend has dragged me kicking and screaming – well, metaphorically – into several more), and I quite enjoy the way they write and what they write. The other friend (my local friend) writes mostly horror stories (which I don’t like or read), but he’s written a few other things as well.
There are also two other local Aspies I know of who have creative pursuits: one is a musician, and has played in at least one of the ASNL’s “For the Love of Autism” concert, and one is a poet.
Not to mention my blogroll. Ari (Perceptions) takes absolutely wonderful photographs of flora and fauna. Seriously. They’re gorgeous. E (The Third Glance), Just Stimming, Musings of an Aspie, Amanda (Ballastexitenz)… they all write so evocatively of what it’s like to be an autistic adult that it communicates not only to fellow ASDers, but to those who are allistic (aka “non-autistic” – apparently a more accurate term than “neurotypical”) what it’s like to live as an ASDer in the world today. Some of these people are “non-verbal” – they either can’t speak or have trouble speaking (which makes it easier to communicate in other ways) – but the creativity and the expressiveness shines through.
So yes, I believe quite firmly that creativity is an ASD specialty. Not to say that allistics can’t be creative – hey, the vast majority of creative people out there are allistic – but (to me, at least – you can feel free to disagree) creativity seems to be just as much a part of the Spectrum as is a gift for mathematics and a talent for looking at the details. Not every autistic has those traits, but those that do… they shine.