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Autism and Creativity. Asperger’s syndrome Conference (Autism Cymru), 6 th June 2005. Millennium Stadium, Cardiff. Prof. Michael Fitzgerald. Mark Twain. Comments on innate ‘individual differences are what make horses race’. Definition of Genius. Bernard Berenson:

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autism and creativity

Autism and Creativity

Asperger’s syndrome Conference (Autism Cymru),

6th June 2005.

Millennium Stadium, Cardiff.

Prof. Michael Fitzgerald.

mark twain
Mark Twain

Comments on innate ‘individual differences are what make horses race’.

definition of genius
Definition of Genius

Bernard Berenson:

‘The capacity for productive reaction against ones training’.

act of genius
Act of Genius
  • Original.
  • Novel.
  • Bring about a change in our understanding of a subject.
Ask questions a child would ask.

Ask fundamental questions.




Narrow interest.

Visual immagination.

Reject received wisdom.


High energy / motivation.


Educational Performance:

  • ‘The budding scientist of high renown seems typically to be a B+ student’.
  • Not interested.
  • Blossom when they find their interest and their niche.
genes and genius
Genes and Genius

Multiple genes of small effect.

Genes effect:

1. Traits of persistence.

2. Concentration.

3. Curiosity.

4. Certain types of stimulation (? Novelty).

genes and evolution
Genes and Evolution:


  • Evolution is slow and gradual.
  • Genes are ‘condemned to a slow and minute evolution! Where they are dependent on chance mutations’.
  • It takes thousands of ‘aborted attempts before a favourable mutation, one worthy of being passed on to coming generations, emerges from the noise’.
  • Genius have ‘exceptional neurobiological structure’.
my view
My View
  • Its their creative activity that keeps them sane.
  • Creative blocks lead to depression and suicidality.
diagnostic criteria for asperger s syndrome by christopher gillberg
Diagnostic Criteria for Asperger’s syndrome by Christopher Gillberg
  • Severe impairment in reciprocal social interaction (At least two of the following):
    • Inability to interact with peers.
    • Lack of desire to interact with peers.
    • Lack of appreciation of social cues.
    • Socially and emotionally inappropriate behaviour.
diagnostic criteria for asperger s syndrome by christopher gillberg1
Diagnostic Criteria for Asperger’s syndrome by Christopher Gillberg
  • All-absorbing narrow interest (At least one of the following):
    • Exclusion of other activities.
    • Repetitive adherence.
    • More rote than meaning.
  • Imposition of routines and interests (At least one of the following):
    • On self, in aspects of life.
    • On others.
digby tantum
Digby Tantum
  • Make up stories, imaginary words, or imaginary play companions.
  • As actors on the stage have difficulty infusing a dramatic individual with a character other than their own.
the following is false about asperger s syndrome
No relationships.

No imagination.

No empathy.

No artistic creativity.

No capacity to write a novel.

No political skill.

The Following is False About Asperger’s syndrome
identity diffusion in autism fragmentary sense of self in autism
Identity Diffusion in Autism. Fragmentary Sense of Self in Autism
  • Problems with narrative leads to problems with sense of self.
  • Problems with capacity for self awareness and autobiographical memory lead to identity diffusion.
  • Problems with personal memory leads to a deficient sense of self.
asperger savant
Asperger Savant
  • Special talent at high I.Q.
  • High creativity.
autistic intelligence
Autistic Intelligence
  • Unconvertional.
  • Unorthodox.
  • ‘Pure and original, akin to the intelligence of true creativity’ -

Hans Asperger.

  • Musical.
  • Abstract and logical.
sir keith joseph
Sir Keith Joseph
  • Founder of Modern Conservatism in Britain (Margaret Thatcher).
  • Most influential politician in late 20th century.
  • John Gray states – responsible for Conservative party’s abandonment of its traditional pragmatic attitutde to economic doctrine and for right-wing think tanks (Autistic phenomena).
  • One of the Godfathers of the Blaire Government.
  • Enigmatic.
keith joseph
Keith Joseph

Family Background:

  • Father Sir Samuel Joseph, Mayor of London in 1943.
  • Difficult man, enormous energy. No detail was too small for him.
  • Stickler for detail.
keith joseph1
Keith Joseph


  • Sensitive and contemplative boy (Denham and Garnett).
  • Outsider.
  • Bullied at school.
  • Yearned for friendship but had difficulty forming relationships.
  • Poor academic performance at school.
  • Psychosomatic disorders.
  • Unorthodox bowler at cricket.
keith joseph2
Keith Joseph

Speech and Language:

  • Specialised in modern languages.
  • Didn’t write autobiography (problem with autobiographical memory).
  • Gift for oratory.
  • Difficulty with humour.
keith joseph3
Keith Joseph

Social Impairment:

  • Excessively private and introverted young man.
  • Shy, intense and guarded.
  • Preference to discuss ideas.
  • Tremendous honesty and openness.
  • Five extra shillings for the barber for not talking to him.
  • Prim and humourless.
keith joseph4
Keith Joseph

Social Impairment:

  • No desire to interact with peers at Oxford.
  • Not changed by war.
  • Immature autistic personality.
  • No one remembered him having a girlfriend at Oxford (Denham and Garnett).
  • He embarrassed people with his frankness and took everything too seriously (John Brocklehurst).
  • ‘The only boring Jew I have met’ (Harold MacMillan).
keith joseph5
Keith Joseph

Social Impairment:

  • Other-worldly innocence.
  • A sense of detachment from reality.
  • Identity diffusion.
  • A loner, a mystery figure (Sunday Express).
  • An unusual degree of detachment from political reality.
  • Alarming naivety.
keith joseph6
Keith Joseph

Social Impairment:

  • As Secretary of State Department of Education he would quiz school children about the abilities of their teachers.
  • He asked 13 year olds about ‘integrated humanities in the middle years’.
  • Talking to you is like trying to teach Chinese to a deaf mute (Len Murray).
  • Maladroit and absent minded (The Spectator).
keith joseph7
Keith Joseph

Social Impairment:

  • He gave the impression of searching for eternal truths who would prefer not to be diverted by the day-to-day problems.
  • Deeply impractical man.
  • No political judgement.
  • Lacked administrative skills.
  • Introverted thinker.
  • Leo Abse stated that he was ‘searching for intellectual solutions for what are properly emotional problems’.
keith joseph8
Keith Joseph

Social Impairment:

  • Professor Ted Wragg of Exeter University likened Joseph’s approach to education to that of ‘a Martian arriving in the middle of a rugby match’.
  • He said if he became the leader of the Conservative Party it would have been a disaster for the party, country, and me.
  • He refused to engage in general Cabinet dialogue.
  • He would not allow television in his own house.
keith joseph9
Keith Joseph

All Absorbing Interests:

  • Workaholic and obsessional outlook.
  • ‘He was perturbed by things which I do not control’.
  • Remarkable self discipline.
  • He was obsessive about note taking and was rarely seen without a notebook and pencil.
  • He had a tremendous memory.
  • He read books incessently.
keith joseph10
Keith Joseph

All Absorbing Interests:

  • He was a linguist.
  • Denham and Garnett claim that in Joseph’s eyes ‘statistical information was the only reliable guide to the existence of a problem’.
  • All opportunities were fact finding opportunities.
  • He answered all correspondence even time wasters.
  • He liked music.
keith joseph11
Keith Joseph

Eccentric Behaviour:

  • He was an enigma.
  • He was as he described himself ‘a convenient madman’ or ‘I was a joke, a useful joke’.
  • Once when he was talking to children and parents at a camping exhibition he gave a kind of state of the nation address and also said ‘it was more difficult for the Russians to move about their country than it was for us . . Are we sure we shall not eventually be subject to movement permits if socialism advances here? Don’t be too sure’. What the children made of this is unclear.
keith joseph12
Keith Joseph

Eccentric Behaviour:

  • He also stated ‘one reason for the reluctance of such people to take advantage of family planning services was that they were ashamed to go out in dirty underclothes’. This was a reference to children of underprivileged lone parents.
  • At other times he could be seen banging his head against a wall.
  • Private Eye described him as the unbalanced wild man of the right.
keith joseph13
Keith Joseph

Non-verbal Behaviour:

  • In conversation the British Ambassador Sir Nicholas Henderson described how he ‘flung his hands in the air but revealed little’. He would chew his handkerchief. Henderson also noted his explosive laughter that seemed at odds with his buttoned up character and his facial expressions clashed with his apparent thoughts like an unsynchronised sound track in a film’ (brilliant description of non-verbal autistic behaviour).
  • Hendersen also said that he could do different expressions on his face simultaneously.
  • Private Eye described him as his ‘Insanity’.
keith joseph14
Keith Joseph

Identity Diffusion:

  • His life was a search for personal settled identity.
  • He had a harsh superego and was according to Tony Benn a ‘tortured soul’.
  • He was moralistic.
  • Patrick Cosgrave described him as the man who told the truth.
  • He regarded that to waste time was a sin.
keith joseph15
Keith Joseph

Motor Skills:

  • He was incompetent at bricklaying and hopelessly inept at skiing.

He tried to understand society using a mathematical approach. He

was preoccupied with details and perfectionistic.