Advertisement

Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 29, Issue 4, pp 319–326 | Cite as

Creativity and Imagination in Autism and Asperger Syndrome

  • Jaime Craig
  • Simon Baron-Cohen
Article

Abstract

Three studies are reported that address the often described impoverished creativity in autism. Using the Torrance Creativity Tests, Experiment 1 found that children with autism and Asperger syndrome (AS) showed impairments. Experiment 2 tested two explanations of these results: the executive dysfunction and the imagination deficit hypotheses. Results supported both hypotheses. Children with autism and AS could generate possible novel changes to an object, though they generated fewer of these relative to controls. Furthermore, these were all reality-based, rather than imaginative. Experiment 3 extended this using a test of imaginative fluency. Children with autism and AS generated fewer suggestions involving attribution of animacy to foam shapes, compared to controls, instead generating reality-based suggestions of what the shapes could be. Although this is evidence of executive dysfunction, it does not directly account for why imaginative creativity is more difficult than reality-based creativity.

Creativity autism imagination Asperger syndrome 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

REFERENCES

  1. American Psychiatric Association. (1994). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (4th ed.). Washington DC: Author.Google Scholar
  2. Baddeley, A. D. (1990). Human memory: Theory and practice. Hove, UK: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  3. Baron-Cohen, S. (1987). Autism and symbolic play. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 5, 139-148.Google Scholar
  4. Baron-Cohen, S, (1995). Mindblindness. Boston: MIT Press/Bradford Books.Google Scholar
  5. Bishop, D. V. M. (1983). Test of reception of grammar (TROG). Available from the Department of Experimental Psychology, Oxford University, South Parks Road, Oxford, UK.Google Scholar
  6. Crutchfield, R. S. (1962). Conformity and creative thinking. In H. E. Gruber, G. Terrell, & M. Wertheimer (Eds.), Contemporay approaches to creative thinking (pp. 102-140). New York: Atherton.Google Scholar
  7. Flowers, J. H., & Garbin, C. P. (1989). Creativity and perception. In S. Daniels-McGhee, S., & G. A. Davis (1994) The imagery-creativity connection, Journal of Creative Behavior, 28(3), 151-176.Google Scholar
  8. Frith, U. (1972) Cognitive mechanisms in autism: Experiments with color and tone sequence production. Journal of Autism and Childhood Schizophrenia, 2, 160-173.Google Scholar
  9. Heausler, N. L., & Thompson, B. (1988). Structure of the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 48, 463-468.Google Scholar
  10. Jarrold, C., Boucher, J., & Smith, P. K. (1993). Symbolic play in autism: A review. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 23, 281-307.Google Scholar
  11. Karmiloff-Smith, A. (1989). Constraints on representational change: Evidence from children's drawings. Cognition, 34, 57-83.Google Scholar
  12. Leslie, A. M. (1987). Pretence and representation: The origins of ‘theory of mind’. Psychological Review, 94, 412-426.Google Scholar
  13. Lewis, V., & Boucher, J. (1991). Skill, content and generative strategies in autistic children's drawings. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 9, 393-416.Google Scholar
  14. Ozonoff, S., Pennington, B. F., & Rogers, S. J. (1991). Executive function deficits in high-functioning autistic individuals: Relationship to theory of mind. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 32, 1082-1105.Google Scholar
  15. Russell, J. (1996). Agency. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  16. Rosenthal, A., Demers, S. T., Stilwell, W., Graybeal, S., & Zins, J. (1983). Comparison of interrater reliability on the Torance Tests of Creative Thinking for gifted and non-gifted students. Psychology in the Schools, 20, 35-40.Google Scholar
  17. Rumsey, J., & Hamberger, S. (1988). Neuropsychological findings in high functioning men with infantile autism, residual state. Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology, 10, 201-221.Google Scholar
  18. Shallice, T. (1988). From neuropsychology to mental structure. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  19. Scott, F., & Baron-Cohen, S. (1996). Imagining real and unreal things: Evidence of a dissociation in autism. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 8, 400-411.Google Scholar
  20. Scott, F., Baron-Cohen, S., & Leslie, A. (in press). “If pigs could fly”: An examination of imagination and counterfactual realism in autism. British Journal of Developmental Psychology.Google Scholar
  21. Tager-Flusberg, H. (1993). What language reveals about the understanding of minds in children with autism. In S. Baron-Cohen, H. Tager-Flusberg, & D. Cohen (Eds.), Understanding other minds: Perspectives from autism. Oxford, UK: Oxford University PressGoogle Scholar
  22. Tegano, D. W., & Moran, J. D. (1989). Developmental study of the effect of dimensionality and presentation mode on original thinking of children. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 68, 1275-1281.Google Scholar
  23. Torrance, E. P. (1974). The Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking: Technical-norms manual: Bensenville, IL: Scholastic Testing Services.Google Scholar
  24. Wilson, R. C. (1956). The program for gifted children in the Portland, Oregon, schools. In C. W. Taylor (Ed.), The 1955 University of Utah research conference on the identification of creative scientific talent (pp. 14-22). Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press.Google Scholar
  25. Wing, L., Gould, J., Yeates, S. R., & Brierly, L. M. (1977). Symbolic play in severely mentally retarded and autistic children. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 18, 167-178.Google Scholar
  26. World Health Organization. (1994). International classification of diseases (10th ed.). Geneva, Switzerland: Author.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jaime Craig
    • 1
  • Simon Baron-Cohen
    • 1
  1. 1.Departments of Experimental Psychology and PsychiatryUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeUnited Kingdom

Personalised recommendations