A new study published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders found a correlation between traits associated with autism, like social and communication deficits, and a creative thought process.
The study involved 312 participants, one-fourth of whom had an autism diagnosis. Researchers gave participants everyday items such as a paper clip and asked them to name possible uses for it.
"People with high autistic traits seem more likely to 'think outside the box,'" Dr. Martin Doherty, a psychologist at England's University of East Anglia and the study's lead author, told The Huffington Post.
Dr. Paul Wang, Autism Speaks head of medical research, was also interviewed about the study’s findings.
"We think that the thinking is more rigid [in autism], but we're not sure," said Dr. Wang. "We're trying to understand in what ways that's true."
"Maybe because [individuals with autism] can have difficulty understanding what other people are thinking, they're not as susceptible to the 'group-think,' so they could come out with an off-the-wall idea," Wang said. "That different way of thinking can be valuable."