9-year-old explains her autism during school's morning announcements


An Alabama fourth grader is being praised by her school of 450 students after giving a powerful speech about being on the autism spectrum.

Keira Meikus, 9, explained what it's like having autism during her school's morning announcements on April 7.

"She's thrilled," Keira's mom, Sarah Charles of Hoover, Alabama, told ABC News. "I don't know that she really understands the impact that she's making. She's still very young. She calls autism her superpower. That's just part of who she is and that's just one piece of her that makes her special.

"We are incredibly proud," she added. "We knew she was made to shine and she's shining at 9."

Charles, 34, said Keira was diagnosed with autism when she was 4 years old.

"It was a difficult time," Charles said. "It was very scary because I wasn't sure what we would do. I wondered how life would be for her and if she would be able to do all the things we hoped for her and all the things her older sister could do.

"She just found out a year ago that she had something called autism," she added. "We never named it for her before then. She's still learning about it."

Keira, who's a student at the Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic School in Homewood, Alabama, is not shy about having autism, her mother said.

In fact, she was happy to inform her fellow students of what it's like being on the spectrum during a speech she delivered to the whole school last week for April's Autism Awareness Month.

Keira's speech read, in part:

"I have autism. I am like you. I go to school, I take tests, I watch TV, I like music and playing with my friends. I am also different than you. Some noises hurt me, I flap my hands when I get excited or overwhelmed. I don't always make eye contact when I should, and I don't always know when someone is being serious or joking.

"I can't speak for everyone who has autism, but I'm sure most want what every typical person wants -- to be accepted and to belong...."

Since Keira gave her speech, Charles said she's heard from a bunch of fellow parents who praised Keira for her courage.

"My absolute favorite part of her speech is 'I am like you,'" Charles said. "They [children with autism] want the same things. When you ask Keira what she wants to be when she grows up, she wants to be a mom ... there are many similarities and it doesn't always have to focus on the difference."

"A lot of her speech therapy this year has been focusing on communicating with other people and socializing and she’s been working on it really hard," Keira's teacher Andrea Smith told ABC News. "It's been a great step for her and to have the kids be so accepting of it helps them make sure that she feels included- to play with them and interact with them, which is all she wants in the first place is to be a part of the group."

Related Articles

People with autism are "dying younger," warns study

"People with autism are dying earlier than the general population," BBC News reports. A recent study in Swe ..

read more

Is everyone on the autism spectrum?

"Is every man in America somewhere on it?” Nora Ephron wondered about the autism spectrum in an e-mail to a ..

read more

The first boy ever diagnosed with autism: Donald Grey Triplett

After Rain Man, and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, the next great autism portrayal the sta ..

read more

Our Support Community

Join our free support community and connect with thousands of other families and individuals touched by ASD. Find out what’s working for others, coping strategies, and life guides from others living what you’re going through now. Click here to join for free!

Resources in Your Area

Looking for autism resources nearby? Check our listings for professionals and services that might help.

Post your services | Help out in general


Autism Parenting Summit
California - United States
Apr-20-2021 - 09:00 am
LEARN HOW TO HELP YOUR CHILD THRIVE! Joins us for the Autism Parenting Summit From the comfort of your home, navigate the challenges of the autism spectrum and learn ..
Go to Event site

view all events