Autism and Poetry: The restorative power of language, mindfulness, and a sensory break

For the past 3 years H has been involved in a 6-8 week Art/Science program held at the nearby Blue Heron Reserve. This is a wonderful hands-on enrichment opportunity that is offered annually by his DL school, and for a child who is enrolled in a distance education program, it is also an important chance to socialize and interact with other children.

As wonderful as this program is… it is not without its bumps and difficulties for a child like H. Sometimes his seasonal allergies have bothered him, or a sudden hatch of insects (ie: mosquitoes) has provided the perfect scenario for a sensory-overwhelm, and sometimes H finds it difficult just being around the other children, their parents, and the teachers as the social expectations, etc. can create anxiety.

What has been important for me to understand is that when a child like H is overwhelmed by the new/unknown social expectations, or sensory issues, or anxiety  – the behaviours need to be read in such a way that we are responsive to the need of the child. It has been essential for me to be able to step back from my own judgement and response to the behaviour. This enables me to be mindful of the underlying message, and then to respond to H is a way that provides him the opportunity to gain understanding, develop skill, or just step out of the fray to regroup and then have the resources to give it another go.

I am learning that resiliency isn’t built by trying to be like everyone else; it is the  acceptance of who we are in the moment, and the understanding that sometimes the pace chooses us, that gives us strength.

When H was finding the program too much, we made a lateral move to a few moments of quiet and mindful reflection. This poem was written during one of those times:

Blue Heron Reserve 

Written by H (Spring 2010)

I smell the sweet grass

I hear the birds singing a song of winter’s passing

I hear the water rushing

And the rustling of the grass

And the songs of the birds

The swaying of the tree branches against the wind

There are little splashes in the water

I feel the wind on my face

I feel the cool breeze underneath my shirt

This place is wonderful

It is such a paradise

It is one of my best dreams come true


30 Days of Autism is a project designed to fight stigma, promote civil rights, and increase understanding and acceptance for those who process and experience the world differently.

© Leah Kelley, Thirty Days of Autism, (2012)

About Leah Kelley, Ed.D.

Leah Kelley, M.Ed, Ed.D., Writer, Consultant, Activist, Speaker, and Educator, working with Teacher Candidates at UBC. Authors blog: 30 Days of Autism. Projects support social understanding, Neurodiversity paradigm, Disability Justice, and connecting Disability Studies in Education(DSE)to Educational Practice. Twitter: @leah_kelley Facebook: 30 Days of Autism: Leah Kelley
This entry was posted in acceptance, Anxiety, Aspergers, Autism, Behaviour, Communicate, Distance Education, Distributed Learning, Parent, Resiliency, Sensory Processing Disorder, SPD and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Autism and Poetry: The restorative power of language, mindfulness, and a sensory break

  1. lexilil says:

    Beautiful poem, and important reminder. Thank you x


  2. Just beautiful. How lovely you have helped H find a way to express himself that is also calming for him and that you are so understanding of his needs. xox


  3. Bev Leroux says:

    Love H’s poem. Absolutely beautiful!


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