A local teenager is making it her life's goal to become a best selling author, and not even her struggles with a social disorder will stop her. Pender County's Alea Bushardt is not your average teenager. At the age of 17, she is already an accomplished equestrian and the author of two children's books. "I started drawing picture books when I was really young, and I kind of grew up with that. The horses just kind of came with age. I had the horse phase as a teenage girl, and it pretty much stayed with me a lot," said Bushardt. It was her love for horses that inspired her writing and was the key to unlocking her struggle with autism. As a child, Alea had a difficult time dealing with her disorder when it came to communicating with others. She then decided to turn her thoughts into words. Alea began writing her first book, "Cloud Filly," at the age of 13. She finished it in less than a year. Later, she went on to write the sequel, "Sky Stallion." "I was able to focus very closely on one subject, and that's the way I was able to focus on my books and horses," said Bushardt. Paula Bushardt, Alea's mother, said "She became a horse encyclopedia, and then eventually we had to buy her a horse because she wouldn't let up. Then she started writing her books, and with that same obsession was able to complete both of these books before she was fifteen." Children never "out grow" autism, but as Alea gets older her case seems to be improving. Her mother said the credit could possibly go to her four-legged companion. Alea is currently working on her third novel, but her main focus is finishing up her senior year at Laney. She will host a book signing tomorrow at Old Books on Front Street in Wilmington at 3 PM.
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