Kyndal Gary, a Columbus East High School senior, decided to use his senior project as a way to share his story and educate others.
Gary published the story “Something’s Different about Andrew” that also includes illustrations hand drawn by Gary himself. Andrew is the main character in the story and according to a WTHR article, Andrew is “a little boy a lot like Kyndal”.
When Gary was asked by WTHR author, Jennie Runevich, why he chose to write this story, Gary responded with “They’re gifted. They’re talented and they’re still people, I wanted a character that autistic people can have as a motivational figure, like Andrew”.
Gary also chose to include one of his teachers in the story, much to their surprise. The teacher, Daugherty, plays a role in teaching Andrew valuable social skills. When Daughtery was asked by Runevich about her part in the story she responded with “I did not know I was going to be in his book. I had no idea, When I first found out was when it was in the black and white drawing stage and his teacher, Mrs. Romanski, showed it to me and I was so surprised because I would have never thought that I would be in a book.”
In the book “Something’s Different about Andrew”, Andrew learns to manage the outside noise and things changing just like Gary had to learn in real life. Gary found headphones very helpful during this time. And the headphones were introduced to Gary by his teacher, Daughtery.
Daughtery told WTHR “I actually introduced those headphones to him, yes!! He would run up and down the hallway because he didn’t like the noise and I said ‘you know what, I think it’s sensory. I think the reason he’s getting so upset is it’s sensory. I think it’s the overwhelming nature’. So I said, ‘here, Kyndal, just try this.’ And he did! And he was ok with it! And he did better!”
Gary’s special education teacher, Suzanne Romanski, also noted to WTHR “For Kyndal, that was a big change in his education. I think he went from being overwhelmed and not sure how to cope, to when he finally found noise canceling headphones, it really just made life so much more pleasant for him. So the fact that Andrew goes through that in the book, and that’s when he doesn’t hear the kids making fun of him, I think that’s, that’s my favorite part of the book”.
Gary has been to turn his senior project into a published book with the help of a local publisher, Sue Breeding.
As for Gary’s future, he told WTRH, “Actually, I hope I’ll become an animator when I grow up”. Just like Gary, Andrew’s story is not over. Gary revealed that there is a sequel being made.