Creativity & Play Through the Eyes of Adults with Autism

Play should be a place that anyone can occupy and where all are welcome, without barriers, boundaries or limitations. It should be an endless place to be and to fundamentally enjoy being.

University of Sheffield

Several months ago we took a wonderful online course through FutureLearn on the Importance of Play In Everyday Life. One lesson covered disability and play.

Webster defines disability as “a physical, mental, cognitive, or developmental condition that impairs, interferes with, or limits a person’s ability to engage in certain tasks or actions or participate in typical daily activities and interactions.”

We all know disabilities can range from simply trying to open a jar to the inability to regulate, comprehend, and interpret emotions.

Credit: Brian Watkins Gallery – The Butterfly

We also know that play is important for all adults…and especially adults with cognitive disabilities like autism. Play provides a method to redirect, calm the senses, and simply enjoy ‘being in the moment.’

In her article “Autism and Creativity” Barb Cohen shares the strong link between autism and creativity and how “we all possess stronger intelligences in some modalities, and each individual is unique.”

And, in his recent book, “The Pattern Seekers: How Autism Drives Innovation” Simon Baron-Cohen makes a case that autism is as ”crucial to our creative process and cultural history as the mastery of fire.”

Credit: Brian Watkins Gallery – Kleidescope Wheel Note Card

Play in the form of creating art for those with autism can result in fantastic work beyond the limits of our own imagination.

Organizations that advocate for and employ those with disabilities and those which provide fun playful products we can enjoy, share, and support especially catch our attention.

One such businesses is Brian Watkins Gallery. Brian and his work demonstrate how creativity, play, and disability coalesce.

Hint hint…Brian’s cards and wrapping papers make for especially great gifts, and well you know, the holidays ARE just around the corner.

Credit: Brian Watkins Gallery – “Wonder Filled Holiday”

About a quarter of U.S. adults live with some sort of disability and about 10% live with cognitive challenges.

Support of play and creativity to help those with disabilities warms our hearts. It’s just plain important for well-being. We also understand how their play could be just as important for us as it is for them.

In her review of “The Pattern Seekers: How Autism Drives Innovation,” Claudia Wallis shares that Simon Baron-Cohen wrote “When the hyper-systemizing qualities of autism are supported and nurtured, the unique skills and talents of autistic individuals can shine — to their benefit and to the benefit of society.”

As we turn to the holiday season and increase online shopping this year, we hope you will playfully surf, discover, and consider purchasing from small businesses that support those with disabilities like Brian Watkins Gallery.

Heck – it’s valuable for the creators, for those who purchase and receive the benefit of these gifts, and in its own way, positively changes the world.

Published by practiceplayfulness

Life without play and a playful outlook is life without living. PLAYFULNESS is critical for adults and takes practice.

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