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Student with autism uses her hobby as a form of self-expression

MADISON, Ala. - Madison City Schools is celebrating Autism Awareness with events for the month of April.

People who have autism communicate in different ways, and one Mill Creek Elementary student uses her hobby to help express herself.

"Lily is 7 years old and she has always loved art," said her mother, Kristi Combs. "She's always colored and drawn and that's kind of been her form of expression before she was even able to verbally communicate."

Lily Combs, a student at Mill Creek Elementary, is being honored by Madison City Schools for Autism Awareness Month.

Lily Combs is a very talented artist, although a little camera-shy.

But her mother said art has helped her daughter develop, even though she has autism.

When Lily was just a few months old, she was missing certain milestones having to do with crawling and walking, but wasn't dramatically behind.

"By the time she was 2, she had failed to meet a milestone for communication and talking," said Combs. "She only said a few words and what few words she did say, weren't really words... they were sounds."

By the age of 3, Lily was diagnosed with autism. Along the way, her love for art has helped her get to where she is today.

As a kindergartener at Mill Creek Elementary she is a part of the general education class. She's still painting and smiling.

"Oh, I'm so proud," said Combs. "I could cry. I'm so proud of her to think three years ago she maybe said 50 words and now, she is excelling with her peers and children her own age and showcasing her talent of art. That is amazing for her age."

Some of Lily's art will be showcased at Mill Creek Elementary and James Clemens High School throughout Autism Awareness Month.

Every Friday in April, Madison City Schools encourages faculty, staff and students to wear blue in honor of Autism Awareness.