Kim Miller was different than most autistic children in the fact that she was born with the symptoms of autism. Most autistic children appear to develop typically until around the age of 2-3 years before experiencing regression in skills and language.
In 1991, at the age of 3 years old, she received the diagnosis of autism. Not very many people were familiar with the condition and theories on how to treat the disability were few.
There was a component to Kimís autism that caused her to have a severe communication deficit. Many children who have hearing impairments are able to gather understanding through contextual inferences.
With the help of the Early Intervention Program, Kim learned to use sign language, a picture schedule, and finally to speak (at the age of 5 years old). Although she was able to verbalize, functional language did not build for many years.
At the age of 3 Ĺ years old, Kim began to draw on anything, using any medium she could find. After a couple of years, she could draw three dimensionally. She showed us concepts on paper that we could not ascertain from her outward demeanor which tended to be flat and mechanical.
Even though not all of the parts of her language were present, she was able to fill in the gaps with her art. As she grew older, she explored the world around her utilizing various mediums.
She received praise and awards for her phenomenal artwork throughout her education career. Kim was inclusioned into typical classes, performing the same tasks, doing the same work as her peers, graduating high school with a 3.75 GPA. She is presently 20 years old and has attended two years of college.
Eileen Miller is a parent and advocate. She has been married to her husband for 25 years and has two fully grown children
She graduated from High School, attended Community College as well as Bible College. Her major was special education with the intent of getting a degree in speech pathology.
Her plan for living was to begin a family and at the appropriate time, to go back to college and finish what she began in her education. All of those plans changed after Kim was born. After being introduced to the Early Intervention Program, she became well read in behavior management, augmentative communication, and all available books in the local library (at that time) about personal experience regarding autism. She attended seminars that dealt with structuring the autistic child and facilitated communication.
However, much of the information that was in books or workshops didnít relate to her personal situation. There were many things that she had learned through observing her daughterís behavior and artwork that needed to be shared for a better understanding of autism. She began writing the book, The Girl Who Spoke With Pictures, when Kim was in the first grade. The writing of the book took over 9 years to complete the first draft and 4 more years to get it published.
The original manuscript for The Girl Who Spoke With Pictures was twice as long as the finished book. It was in chronological order. Because it needed to be shortened, the chapters were grouped according to subject matter creating a stronger piece of writing. The scope of this book is narrowed to examine autism through Kimís artwork and is in no way the final or definitive word on our experience with the disability.