Sunday, April 24, 2005

The Poetry of Autism

Autism is not the subject of much poetry, but in the 2005 issue of Mindprints , Barbara Crooker, the book’s featured poet, has given us five poems that explore this important issue. In “The Autistic Boy and His Mother,” Crooker lays bare the feelings of a parent try to make the shift from the envisioned ideal child to the reality that is her son:

A lusty, lively son
was what she wanted, not
this dear Mr. Dopey, still

blissfully filling his diapers
at four

The poet knows firsthand whereof she speaks. Her own son, now twenty years old, is autistic. Like many parents whose children have disabilities she has found herself fighting the education system to get what is best for her son. Crooker’s poems not only explore family dynamics and parental feelings but try also to come to an understanding of the autistic mind itself, as in “Autism Poem: The Grid”:

He loves things that are perforated:
toilet paper, graham crackers, coupons
in magazines, loves the order of tiny holes,
the way boundaries are defined.

Mindprints’ editor Paul Fahey deserves credit for giving enough space in his publication to allow these poems to speak. Barbara Crooker has been widely published. Her work can be seen on line at


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is quite an excellent blog. I am not disabled myself but I used to work in the disability system as a claims examiner. I also have a website devoted to providing helpful tips about the process at

And, of course, I, on occasion, have written poetry.

One I wrote years ago was "constant"

The waves fall in
Ascend the shore
Floating graceful, sliding free.
They work momentum through its course
And slip back to the bending sea.

Anyway, I guess I am now officially published. Sorry, I couldn't resist sharing that.

Great blog and keep it going.

September 20, 2005  
Blogger ballastexistenz said...

Just found this blog through a search engine.

There actually is a great deal of poetry out there by autistic people. I am wary of non-autistic people, even non-autistic people who are very close to the subject of autism, writing poetry projecting their imagined versions of us (autistic people) and calling it autism poetry.

Here are some links, if you are interested:

I Built A Bridge by Jim Sinclair

Don't Bind Me by Sondra Williams

Before Mind by Donna Williams

I am... to say the least... distrustful of the sentiments presented in such a supposedly non-political form, in the first poem mentioned by the mother. For reasons enumerated in places like Don't Mourn For Us, and Getting the Truth Out (that second one you have to read the whole site to get the point, not stop in the middle).

There's a lot of poetry out there about autism, by autistic people. And there's a lot of other writing out there about autism, by autistic people. It is disturbing how much other people's impressions of us, rather than our lived reality, gets recognized more than our own impressions of ourselves.

December 18, 2005  
Blogger ballastexistenz said...

Also, the first known book published by an autistic person was a book of poetry. There have been many poetry books published by many autistic people since, as well as many books that are mostly prose but contain some poetry.

And here's a webpage full of links to autistic art and poetry:

Autistic Art and Poetry

December 18, 2005  
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January 15, 2006  

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