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Autism and Language Arts: Using poetry and song to unlock potential

December 3, 2015 @ 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

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New research shows that the brain of those living with autism is hardwired for metaphor, imagery and studied attention to the materiality of language. In other words, children and adults with autism may be natural poets. And poetry is a terrific vehicle for exploring a student’s passion and then connecting it to the world. It can also be a fun way to build executive function and practice literacy skills through creative reading. In this presentation, you will learn more about the relationship between poetry and autism through engaging exercises and practical primers.

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Speakers: Chris Martin is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop who has worked with unconventional students, students with autism and twice-exceptional students for over a decade, specializing in creative writing and executive function. His first collection of poems, American Music (Copper Canyon Press, 2007) was selected by C. D. Wright for the Hayden Carruth Award and his newest collection, The Falling Down Dance (Coffee House Press, 2015), chronicles his experience as a father. He teaches at The Loft Literary Center and will be a Visiting Assistant Professor at Carleton College in 2016. With Brian Laidlaw he co-founded Unrestricted Interest, a writing program dedicated to transforming the lives of students with autism and other unconventional learners through poetry.

Brian Laidlaw is a poet, singer-songwriter and an educator. He earned his BA from Stanford and his MFA from the University of Minnesota. In addition to teaching at McNally Smith College of Music, he has worked with many special needs students as a private tutor. His first collection of poems, The Stuntman (Milkweed Editions, 2015), was released with a companion album of music. He tours the libraries of America, performing his songs and offering free songwriting workshops for musicians of all ages and abilities. With Chris Martin he co-founded Unrestricted Interest, a writing program dedicated to transforming the lives of ASD students and other unconventional learners through poetry.


December 3, 2015
7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
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Academy of Whole Learning
9400 Cedar Lake Road
St. Louis Park, MN 55426
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