Autism Linked to Enhanced Creativity and Divergent Thinking Capabilities: British Study

A recent research carried out by the scientists in the University of Stirling and the University of East Anglia in Scotland reported that autism is linked to enhanced creativity and divergent thinking capabilities.

Although autistic children are perceived to face increased challenges in the social and empathetic realms, the recent report reveals that they have enhanced capabilities in creative thinking and can excel in problem-solving, more than a normal child. The report of the study was published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.

Autism Awareness Creativity

The research involved 312 participants, of whom 75 were diagnosed as autistic. The non-autistic participants exhibited sub-threshold autistic characteristics or were borderline autistic. Fox News reported that the participants were shown a series of abstract objects and images and were asked to explain what they thought of each object/image. Also, participants were asked to list out as many uses as they can think of for everyday ordinary objects like bricks, paper clips etc.

According to the Science World Report, this team of scientists found that the participants with increased autistic traits responded slower than those with lower autistic traits. However, the answers given by the more autistic group were more creative than those of the group that showed lower autistic traits.

Autistic people do not use conventional expressions and thought processes, said Nira Marshal, head of the Brain and language lab at Israel’s’ Bar-IIan University. Consequently, she said, autistic people’s answers and perceptions are more unique and more creative than the normal person’s ideas. Catherine Best, health researcher at the University of Stirling and co-author of this report told The Guardian that this study goes to show how people who think differently and often are characterized as disabled, exhibit superior creativity in some domains.

Autism Myth Busters reports that there are geniuses evident in our history that perhaps had some form of autism but were not diagnosed as the concept of autism was unknown then. Albert Einstein, for instance, was known to have learning disabilities and difficulty in picking up languages in his childhood, both of which are early symptoms of autism. He was always behind school schedule despite his high IQ and had issues keeping a job due to his difficulty in social interaction.


Jolanta Lasota, chief executive of Ambitious About Autism, said in The Guardian that many myths and misconceptions exist about autism including antisocial behavior and lack of empathy. Lasota commented that in reality autistic individuals struggle with trying to fit in their emotions and caring traits into everyday activities. Lasota added that this report helps us to understand that being different in this world can have advantages and can be seen as positive traits.

Temple Grandin, an autistic researcher and activist in Colorado State University, informed Reuters Health that mild autism can actually have intellectual advantages in some fields. He claimed that if all autistic traits were to be removed, creative minds in the realms of math, science, art and music could be lost.

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