Creativity Assessment in ASD: Mathematical and Non-Mathematical Thinking Processes
Objectives: The goal of this study was to investigate traditional and mathematical creative thinking processes among individuals with and without ASD, and to evaluate the relations between creative thinking and cognitive processes namely verbal and spatial working memory, and inhibition.
Methods: Participants included two groups of 20 children with HFASD and with typical development (TD) ages 9-11, matched based on Raven’s IQ test. Participants were asked to participate in five sets of tests: mathematical and pictorial tasks developed to evaluate creativity in multiple solutions to problems using the four parameters performance scale developed to evaluate creativity; the Stroop color-word test, the Wechsler’s letter-number sequencing test, and the Corsi block task.
Results: There were no significant differences based on gender, IQ or age among all participants. There were no significant differences in inhibition and spatial working memory, but there was a significant difference in verbal memory test results between the two groups. In the mathematical creativity test, results demonstrate a significant difference in fluency and in flexibility, with the group of children with ASD presenting more solutions to the problems, with a larger variability in the solutions. However, there was no significant difference in the general level of creativity. In the pictorial problem solving test, results demonstrate a significant difference in fluency and originality, and a close to significant difference in the general level of creativity. In this test, the group of children with TD presented more solutions to the problems, with a larger variability in the solutions. There were negative correlations between the mathematical problem solving abilities and the results in the Stroop test among both groups, and positive correlations between the pictorial problem solving abilities and the Raven’s IQ results. Specific results in the ASD group demonstrated negative correlations between the mathematical fluency and the originality levels and the Stroop, and between the pictorial fluency and the flexibility levels and all the math creativity results.
Conclusions: Results demonstrate that children with HFASD and children with TD did not differ in their general creativity when solving mathematical problems. Yet, children with HFASD showed more fluency and flexibility in the math task, while children with TD showed more flexibility and originality in the pictorial test. These results might indicate a tendency for higher levels of creativity in mathematical thinking in comparison with non-mathematical creativity among children with ASD. Cognitive measures were similar across both groups, except for the verbal working memory that was significantly lower than the control group. Further conclusions and comparisons will be discussed in the presentation in relation cognitive performance and specific creativity parameters among both groups.