Writing is a common way for adults and kids alike to express their emotions. For Max Miller, however, writing is not just a hobby, but a way to connect kids with autism around the world. Max, who is 14, was told he wouldn’t be able to speak when he was diagnosed at age 5, but he proved his doctors wrong.
By 12, Max published his book “Hello My Name Is Max and I Have Autism.” The Colorado teen says until he could verbalize-which wasn’t until he was 6–he would communicate with his mother through drawings. His mother, Rebecca Miller, says the drawings changed everything–and were a major breakthrough. Max says “art saved my life.”
Max explained how he would make art after having a bad day at school, because he was being bullied for being “different.” It all changed when he came home with a dark and stormy picture of himself sitting at his desk–surrounded by red and black clouds, which upset his mom, as she stated:
“I had no idea how autism affected my own son and it just broke my heart.”
When Max was in 4th grade, he was accepted into a special program at Eagleview Elementary School–the school loved his art so much, some of his pieces hung in the hallway. For each piece, he wrote a brief description on what his drawing meant for him. When this happened, it was the catalyst that made his classmates realize he wasn’t actually different from them.
His mom explained how it helped Max too:
“It took the mystery out of autism. It made Max feel accepted because they could finally understand him and felt a validation of what they were feeling too.”
Writing, Max says, allows him to feel connected to others:
“I finally felt like a person instead of a shadow. I didn’t feel like anyone hated me anymore. People actually talked to me, listened to me and respected me. It was awesome.”
Eventually, Max decided he wanted to compile his art in a book to reach a larger audience. So he and his mom launched a GoFundMe page, and within a month, they had raised enough money to pay for the printing.
Max also started donating to Art Start Kits, which is an organization that donates art supplies to low-income children on the autism spectrum. He was inspired when he found out another boy with autism in Tennessee, Christopher Miller, was suicidal. So, Max sent Christopher his book, a box of art supplies, and a personal letter. This led Christopher to publish his own book called “Captain Spectrum.”
It’s heartwarming to see kids everywhere connecting, and learning, with each other–because that’s what life is all about.