Essay contest winner helps spread autism awareness

CREATED Apr 3, 2014

  • Print
  • Amanda and Kailey Image by Courtesy of Debra Mahlum

Studies show that one in 68 American children have autism or a related disorder.

In honor of Autism Awareness Month, an essay contest in Wisconsin helps bring attention to the friendships between autistic kids and their peers.

Amanda Mahlum - who won the Autism Society of Wisconsin's student essay contest twice in the past - and her autistic friend Kailey have been friends since they met on the swings in Kindergarten.

In her essay she described her special bond with Kailey.

"We are always together, it's like we are inseparable," Mahlum said. "It's not every day that you get to meet someone like Kailey."

The girls are now 8th graders at Kennedy Middle School in Germantown.

"It's amazing, it is just so more much fun," Mahlum said. "[She] doesn't get mad ... nobody gets mad at each other, so all you do when you're together is have fun, and I think that's the most important thing that I've learned."

The K-12 contest awards Amazon gift cards as prizes to the winners. The kids also get to read their essays in front of the Autism Society's annual conference later this month.

"I don't think there is anything else that I would really have to do differently besides just look out for her a little more," Mahlum said. "Not everybody is always nice to people who are different."