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Neuro diversity and creativity


There has been lots of stuff recently about ADHD and I find that if I ever mention it, people often make the rejoinder “ oh that’s really fashionable at the moment, everyone is being diagnosed with it”

I have been doing a lot of reading and reflecting on the subject of neuro diversity and I think my answer would be that our society and our school system is a tight funnel, based on the neuro typical person. Anyone who doesn’t fit into that has been labelled a problem/ disorder such as ADHD. However I believe that those are merely outliers on the spectrum, there are plenty more of us, who keep our differences under wraps. I think the concept of a tapestry with loads of overlap is much better than little closed boxes of diagnoses.

I started to notice changes in my own behaviour once I started going to art classes. Old traits of messiness and disorganisation started to reappear. I don’t want a “ diagnosis”, I don’t need “ help” “ special allowances” or stuff like that but it is really, REALLY helpful to recognise what I am like. It just makes life more…navigable, easier to negotiate when I know my quirks and needs, rather than trying to hide or mask my differences.

I have a severely dyslexic friend, who has incredible artistic skills which somehow seemed part and parcel of their dyslexia. I now recognise that virtually every creative person I know could be described as neuro diverse in some way, including myself. I wouldn’t “ label” myself as anything in particular but I do recognise the following traits:

Autistic traits (especially females):

Hyper empathy ( being in groups can be uncomfortable as I pick up other people’s discomfort and emotions very easily)

Hypersensitivity to noise ( again crowds and busy places difficult)

Hyper focus ( become fixated on topics and pursue them unremittingly)

Difficulty with small talk, I can do it but I hate it.

ADHD traits:

Disorganisation and extreme messiness which can then be flipped into intense hyper organisation.

Difficulty seeing tasks through to completion ( cooking, clearing, artwork etc). Deadlines are helpful for this. My attention and interest rapidly flits from object to object. I am very easily distracted.

Dyslexia traits:

Confusion with mirror imagery of things. This has the positive effect that whilst learning the piano, whereas coordinating my 2 hands in playing can be very difficult, getting the 2 hands to play simultaneously in mirror image is incredibly natural and obvious.


I can appreciate that all these things are also part of neuro typical behaviours it is just that the more I immerse myself in creative work and become less interested in fitting in with society’s demands they are becoming more and more obvious and to the fore in my life. In some ways they can be negative, my ability to lose my keys, phone and glasses has rocketed but overall I see my distracted, flitting mind as very useful creatively.


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