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Thursday, September 10, 1998 Published at 14:48 GMT 15:48 UK


Autistic woman who speaks through poetry

Her poetry has baffled the doctors, but impressed English academics.

Now examples of the work of a woman with autism have gone on display for the first time.

Her story was told at the British Association Festival of Science, in Cardiff.

The woman, called Kate, is in her 40s and suffers from one of the most severe forms of autism, Asperger's Syndrome.

She can hardly communicate, but about 12 years ago she was shown some poems by a friend - and suddenly began writing verse of her own.

Their structure and depth amazed the doctors looking after her and impressed English academics.

Great difficulty

Dr Ann Dowker, from Oxford University, who has studied Kate's case, said: "She has great difficulty understanding what other people expect of her in terms of communication, or appropriate levels of intimacy.

"Nobody knows really what her IQ is because she does not understand instructions or a test situation. She would not be able to live independently.

"Despite having all these problems, she writes poems which are very well thought of by English academics."

Among Kate's poems getting their first airing at the British Association was this one:

I am alive and know
In the knowledge of myself,
It is the intelligence
Beating in my brain
That I must get out
To you.

When I was small,
Not far away, the pen poised,
Lying side by side
Paper, childishly scrawled
With notes for reference
In the future.
My first love was books
Surrounding me like a cocoon.

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