Creativity and Imagination in Autism and Asperger Syndrome

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.

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Craig, J., Baron-Cohen, S. Creativity and Imagination in Autism and Asperger Syndrome. J Autism Dev Disord 29, 319–326 (1999). https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1022163403479

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  • Creativity
  • autism
  • imagination
  • Asperger syndrome