Show uses art to talk about autism


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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 19/06/2017 (1935 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Hannah Lyttle believes in helping others have a voice.

The 16-year-old Grade 11 student was the curator, organizer and host of a recent show called Art, Emotion, & Autism, which was showcased at The Forks on June 5.

Lyttle, who lives in St. Vital, said the show was comprised of more than 40 art pieces “with themes of emotions as experienced by people with autism.” The pieces were created, in part, by students in an IPSA class (interdivisional program for students with autism), which Lyttle was teaching twice a week for several months, while other pieces were created by professional artists in the community, including Lisa-Marie Carrick, Steve Goetze, and Adam Goetze.

Supplied photo St. Vital resident Hannah Lyttle organized a recent show of art pieces created by students and local professional artists.

The teen put on the show as part of the project-based learning program Propel, having spent the semester at Nelson McIntyre Collegiate. Her home school is Collège Jeanne-Sauvé.

“The purpose of the show was to give people in the autism community, and those on the autism spectrum disorder, a bit of a voice,” Lyttle said.

“Sometimes, people experience sensory overload when the brain doesn’t know how to deal with everything, and there can be a huge variation with people living with autism, and a lot of people struggle with verbalizing things. For example, two of the seven people in the class I taught were verbal, and the other five couldn’t speak at all. But art is freeing for them because the colours they choose or the way they paint, such as a swirling effect, can communicate emotion. If someone is non-verbal, people will often not ask them how they are feeling and will ask someone else, such as their assistant, so this helps give people a voice.”

Noting IPSA classes consist of specialized programming and resources tools, Lyttle said her first classes focused on happiness, her last class concentrated on pride and in-between sessions looked at a variety of emotions including sadness, frustration, and nervousness.

“And if a student had an overriding feeling of anxiousness during any of the classes, I’d let them lead for the first half of the class and then switch to something new,” Lyttle said.

And the students weren’t just limited to paint, as they also used other mediums such as crayons, pastels, and markers.

Supplied photo Hannah Lyttle's recent show, titled Art, Emotion, & Autism, was held at The Forks on June 5.

While it’s a bit early to say for sure, Lyttle had originally wanted to study arts theory after high school, but now she is considering pursuing a career in specialized education focusing on students with cognitive and developmental disabilities.

She also hopes to organize another art exhibit in the future.

Simon Fuller

Simon Fuller
Community Journalist

Simon Fuller is a reporter/photographer for the Free Press Community Review. Email him at or call him at 204-697-7111.

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