Asperger’s Syndrome and creativity – the two are certainly not mutually exclusive. People with autism see the world differently and should be encouraged to develop their creative interests.
Everyone has a natural desire to express themselves, and creativity provides a golden opportunity for socialization. I’ve always been uncomfortable at large family gatherings and I have a driving desire to document things. Throw a camera into the mix and a few basic scrapbooking supplies and something happens…
I started scrapbooking before scrapbooking was “cool.” I’m not fancy. I do fairly simple layouts on various colors of paper with a few sticker embellishments and lots of descriptive captions, especially names and dates. I put together a photo album each year and I always bring one or two of them along to family gatherings. People love to look at the books, we talk about the people in the pictures and my comfort level in a crazy, overstimulating environment improves immensely.
Kids with autism who paint or draw or play music can be encouraged to share their talents, and they often do. This creates healthy social interaction and builds confidence. But where are the writers?
Many people with Asperger’s write non-fiction, and that makes sense. Who better to describe what it’s like to have Asperger’s than someone with the condition? But finding fiction written by people with Asperger’s is extremely difficult, and I’m not entirely sure why.
People with Asperger’s have a keen sense of detail – something valuable for a novelist. Aspies are known for having sharp memory skills, handy for creating and maintaining a storyline. Since Aspies need to actively learn social behaviors, they have a strong understanding of what’s needed to motivate and develop characters. Aspies are all about rules, so reading a few books about the writing craft sets up a terrific structure to build upon.
There may be Aspie authors out there, just not writing about Aspie characters. I wonder about Jeff Lindsay, the author of the Dexter novels. While Dexter is a psychopath, his observations and confusion about human behavior are delightfully Aspie-like, and I’d like to think that’s an extension of the author’s world-view.
Jodi Picoult wrote a novel, House Rules, about a teenager with Asperger’s, but honestly, I never felt she got very far inside his head. She did a lot of hard work and research, but that neurotypical essence still crept through.
One of the reasons I wrote Asperger Sunset, my mystery novel, is because I couldn’t find anything else like it out there. But I’m looking for more. If you know of any books featuring characters with Asperger’s or works of fiction written by authors with Asperger’s, please share them with me. Did the writers do well? Why or why not? Celebrate creativity!