Art and Autism (a creative edge).


Photography Stu Allsop: At RE:collections at the North Wall Gallery, Oxford. 

An interesting article appeared in yesterday’s Guardian newspaper, featuring my good friend and fellow autistic artist Jon Adams.

I like this particular quotation from the piece,

“Adams says it’s impossible for his autism not to affect his work. “It’s not separate so it must inform every bit of the work I do, even at an unconscious level. I make work touching sound, finding patterns and observations from my life all woven together as one.” He feels it may even give him an advantage: “It’s both my downfall and my creative edge,” he says.”

I’m chuckling though.

“…may even give him an advantage…”

Are you kidding?

While not wishing to indulge in trumpet blowing, I have to say that autism is of course advantageous in the making of art. No question.

Jon and I have talked about this on several occasions and conclude that  art making has emerged in our lives as an inner compulsion – we live and breathe it – this is what drives us to create to our best abilities.  Hyper-focus, perfectionism, task completion and originality (by default we see things differently), are my four (not so) secret weapons.

This doesn’t make me Rain Woman!

AND there is a downside. In the making autism is an advantage, but it is in the professional development and dissemination of our work that we often suffer.

Professional structures are socially driven and thus biased against autistics.

It’s a criminal mismatch when you think about it.

All that creative talent and very little scope for opportunity.

What a waste.




Published by soniaboue

I am an artist.

8 thoughts on “Art and Autism (a creative edge).

  1. Thank you for this. It’s exactly what I’m struggling with. I love to write. It’s who I am.

    What do I do when I finish writing a book? I might play with the editing for a while, but then I put it back on the metaphorical shelf.

    Why? Because the next bit is beyond me. It involves contacting people, and I don’t know the rules of it. It involves networking and socialising. And although I could do it, it’s possible, I’d much rather just start writing something else. It would take so much from me.

    That’s why Blogging suits me, there’s no middle man. I’m working on my sharing and social media skills. They don’t come naturally to me either.

    I occasionally fantasise that I’ve missed noticing some amazing charity who works as an intermediary for people like me. Maybe there is. Maybe there will be.

    This year I have reached out more than ever before. I don’t intend to stop 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Good for you Rhi – self publishing is extremely democratising and empowering! That agency for supporting autistic creatives has to come into existence – and not as charity – we nee dour own professional structures. 😉 xx

      Liked by 1 person

      1. We do. It’s one area where NT skills and autistic creativity need to pool resources and balance each other. We have such complementary skills. All equally valuable.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. “art making has emerged in our lives as an inner compulsion – we live and breathe it – this is what drives us to create to our best abilities” – I love this line.
    I live a life and have such executive functioning issues combined with guilt, an overwhelming sense of duty, and a frantic, anxious psyche that I don’t have a continuous creative outlet that I can call my own. I am not able to label myself an artist, a writer, a photographer, musician or any of the other familiar labels for a working creative. But I do have the same desire and need to create. I write, I photograph, I arrange things around me to suit my own inner compulsion. And when I can neither find nor make the time or the mindset to do any of the things we conventionally recognise as creative I still have the same compulsion and it herniates out in desperation into my domestic life and I find myself rearranging the furniture, buying beautiful objects, thinking up and presenting pretty meals, or arranging the words of an email to flow in a way that pleases me. I create harmonies to songs on the radio in the car on the way to the supermarket, I spend a lot longer than the average person on a family snapshot. I wish I could weave it the other way so that my life is woven into my art in a more balanced way than the way the artistic side is woven desperately into my life. For me in this situation this is autism, creativity and society not working too well together.
    Sorry that I made this all about me but you always make me think and I always relate so well to your posts!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your life sounds so rich Rachel – taking care of family is a major pull on executive function and the capacity to organise our creativity. This is another unaddressed issue for autistic parents. Perhaps it helps to view your solution as adaptive and functional – to be creative in life is significant and meaningful even if others don’t notice it so much. You are gathering skills and experience which can become something else when you have more free time. My attempt to validate and reassure you – I hope not patronising! TY for reading and responding. xx

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s lovely and very supportive, thank you, Sonia. That you are so keen to not come across as patronising means that it is not so at at all. Thank you also for letting me have this space on your space! X

        Liked by 1 person

  3. A constant conundrum indeed. Not merely a “but me too” issue for artists in general, but a real and often devastating aspect of imbalance, that is what I face. Thanks for yet another insightful post! ❤


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