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Art helps 12-year-old girl find her voice

A young girl from Akron with autism is a published poet and accomplished writer.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — "Ok, here we go. 'The Haunted Moon' by Kristen." 

That is how 12-year-old Kristen Maggio of Akron started her poetry reading at the Atrium 124 Gallery on Elmwood Avenue in Buffalo.

Maggio was reading excerpts from her published books of poetry. However, Thursday night was not only about poetry, it was also about her paintings.

The public was welcomed into a gallery to view 20 of Maggio's paintings that were hanging up on the brick walls of the exhibit.

Maggio is an accomplished and impressive 12-year-old and has already overcome obstacles in her young life.

She has autism and was non-verbal until she was four years old. 

"We couldn't tell what was upsetting her. If she was crying we didn't know if she was sick," Kristen's father Mike Maggio said.

"She used to make drawings of a telephone ringing and she would put ring, ring on it," Kristen's mother Susan Maggio said. "She used to make drawings of a dog barking, a baby crying and all that time she was trying to visually tell us the things that were actually hard for her."

Maggio used her drawings to communicate and slowly began to speak.

"I might tear up, when she first, ya know a lot of parents look forward to their kids saying I love you. Her first thing to me was 'I love being with you' and I remember thinking okay that was a huge moment. I'll never forget that," she said.

Over time with a paintbrush and pencil in hand, Maggio found her voice.

"She was so good at doing caricature drawings and especially at that age, it was just like we couldn't believe it. So right away we knew she had a gift for it," her father said.

Four books of poetry written by Kristen Maggio are available on Amazon.

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