DOVER — From an early age, Megan Miller said she demonstrated a love of art and has used it as an expression of her life.
Miller, 35, a Seacoast resident, was the keynote speaker Monday night at a presentation on Asperger syndrome (AS), hosted by the Dover Public Library.
Miller spoke about what it was like to grow up with AS. Life was often challenging and traumatic for Miller during her childhood, as she coped with teasing and bullying from her schoolmates for being “different” and having difficulty with traditional teaching and learning methods.
According to the website www.autismspeaks.org, AS is “generally considered to be on the ‘high functioning’ end of the autism spectrum. Affected children and adults have difficulty with social interactions and exhibit a restricted range of interests and/or repetitive behaviors.”
Miller’s range of interest was a godsend. A bright spot was her artistic talent, encouraged by her teachers. She started taking outside art classes, which she liked “because some of the kids were nice to me.”
As Miller entered high school, peer abuse escalated, causing her parents to home school her, a move that proved positive.
Through the years Miller has honed her craft and has exhibited a variety of her works in Boston, Cambridge, Mass., and at the Massachusetts State House.
Over the years, Miller has become an advocate and missionary, sharing her experiences with AS. Monday’s presentation showed her knowledge and experiences both visually through her art. She used slides to explain how she learned to cope with a society unfamiliar with her needs and reactions. She also talked about has bravely confronting people on their lack of sensitivity.
After Miller spoke, her mother Debra took the floor and gave a presentation on the challenges people with AS face, and supporting such people through understanding, inclusion of family members and communication.
The presentation concluded with a question-and-answer period. Longtime educator Jim Parks of Sanford, Maine, said he has a family member who is affected with AS.
“Megan was very informative,” he said, “and caused me to go some places to get some answers.”
Miller’s work is presently being exhibited at the Diane Snow Gallery in Limerick, Maine, and can also be found on Facebook under Megan Miller Speaker and Artist.