Meryl Keioskie has used her Honours thesis to tackle the stigma surrounding mental illness, producing an arresting graphic novel about her life with Asperger’s Syndrome.

The Queensland College of Art student has just graduated from aBachelor of Digital Media degree with Honours.

She was diagnosed at the age of 18 with Asperger’s Syndrome – a form of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) which affects how people perceive the world and interact with others.

“I always felt different to everyone else, and Ifelt ashamed of it for many years,” she said.

“I think there is a lot of stigma attached to being on the autism spectrum – you are perceived as an outcast or a weirdo.

“Part of doing this project was attempting to come to terms with it, and learning to accept myself for who I am.”

Meryl hopes projects like hers will improve understanding of ASD and break down stereotypes.

“We’re not all like Rain Man, people with ASD are individuals, and we should be treated fairly and with respect,” she said.

“I hope my work inspires other people with ASD to share their diagnosis and feel comfortable with the gifts it presents.”

Meryl will embark on a PhD next year at the Queensland College of Art.

“I love research, its controlled and very linear, and I love connecting the dots.”

Queensland College of Art senior lecturer Dr Mike McCauley said Meryl was an outstanding student.

“As well as her strong analytical and critical thinking skills, she is also highly creative,” he said.

“She talks the talk with theory, but also walks the walk with her creative practice.

“Meryl embodies what we want to achieve with the Bachelor of Design, in terms of theory and practice integration, and her work is very appealing.”