When Myles McKie was in elementary school, his teachers couldn’t get him near a book.
He wanted nothing to do with them.
When he was in Grade 8, he still wouldn’t read. Couldn’t read. He simply wasn’t interested. Then in Grade 9, he decided picking up a book wasn’t all that bad. Within a year, he was reading at a Grade 12 level.
Why? Because he was ready.
McKie told this story, with the help of his mother Anita McKie, to the students of Kent elementary school Tuesday afternoon. The duo travel around schools, talking about their experiences with autism. McKie has Asperger’s Syndrome, a higher functioning form of autism. But listening to his story, opened the audience’s understanding of McKie’s abilities.
“Who was your first friend?” one student asked.
“Did you have an imaginary friend?” another one wanted to know.
Most wanted to know how he made it through school, and if people teased him.
No, he told them, he wasn’t teased.
His first friend? His mom set up a partnership with another kid, and that relationship is still strong. Now, McKie has too many friends to count.
“I don’t have enough fingers to count them!” he told the students, laughing.
And that imaginary friend? Not one his mom knew about.
McKie has been promoting autism awareness by speaking publicly for the past five years. As a person with a form of autism, speaking publicly doesn’t come naturally.
Now, he speaks to large groups and is getting plenty of media attention.
He graduated high school a few years ago, has a job as a merchandiser, and helps his mom with her business.
And when he’s not engrossed in a novel — he reads for hours a day — he’s attempting to write his own.
To find out more about Myles McKie, or see a documentary on his life, search for his name on Google.
“Oh, my name will come up,” he said, smiling ear to ear.