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Project & Prosopagnosia

Autism and Poetry

It's June, and I'm underway with my poetry project at Limsfield Grange. We're slowly getting to know each other and every new session brings with it more engagement, more writing and more talking. In our last session we tried out Ekphrasis poetry - using familiar and not so familiar art images to provoke poems. It required us to imagine ourselves as 'other' and to write from a projected viewpoint. This was an interesting challenge for some pupils but it also gave the option for a safe exploration of inner thoughts and feelings via an external chosen image.

Most of the girls had firm ideas as to which postcard they'd write about. The choices made and poem responses were all very individual and uniquely themselves. Interestingly, while my face-blindness (diagnosed Prosopagnosia) makes it hard for me to remember faces, their finished poems seem to act as an aide-memoire.

On returning home, I've read over each poem alongside its image. The discussions we'd had and the pupil's emotional responses to their writing were recalled, and somehow, the majority of pupil's animated faces would spring into my mind. I've long suspected that I register and recall a person's face if I've previously been involved in a personal or emotional exchange with them. And it seems that Ekphrasis poetry is the perfect medium for this to happen.

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