Beauty Queen With Autism Vies for Miss America Crown & We're Cheering for Her (VIDEO)

Inspiring 24

Alexis WinemanSaturday night is the 92nd Miss America pageant, and whether or not your care much about such things, there's one particularly notable thing about this year's contest. It's the first time in the pageant's history that a contestant who has autism will compete.

Alexis Wineman is Miss Montana. At 18, she's both the youngest contestant and also the first with a form of autism to compete for the coveted crown. According to Yahoo, she was diagnosed with Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS) at the age of 11, which means she's on the mild end of the spectrum, but she's on it, and her beauty queen status could prove to be a powerful position for raising awareness about the disorder. Her platform: Normal Is Just a Dryer Setting: Living With Autism.

In an online video for contestant finalists she says:

Most people do not understand what autism is. And 1 in 88 people having some form of autism, this understanding is becoming more and more necessary.

In a recent interview on Fox & Friends, she described how autism affects her saying: "I suffer from constant meltdowns if things get too stressful. I have problems understanding common sayings. I take things very literally. And I have trouble communicating at times."

More from The Stir: Teen With Autism Defeats Bullies to Take Homecoming Princess Title

But despite her limitations, she's gotten this far, and it would be great to see her go even further. Even if she doesn't, it's still inspiring to see someone with autism breaking ground like this.

When you're a kid one of the most important things for self esteem and building dreams is having role models you can relate to. Seeing people who you can imagine yourself becoming like one day. As we saw after the Sandy Hook shooting, too often autism is surrounded by misconceptions and negative stereotypes, so it's incredible to see such a positive role model in such a high profile position. As she says:

We cannot cure what is not a sickness. But we can begin to understand autism, and help those with the condition to unlock the potential that lies within all of us.

 Good luck to Wineman Saturday night. 

Do you think having someone with autism as Miss America would be a positive thing for autism awareness?

 

Image via MissAmerica.org

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bills... billsfan1104

I need to learn a lot about Autism. Because things she described use to be called "being shy", "or going through the teen years". I pray that we do not over diagnose this horrible disease. I will be learning more about this.

PRIMA487 PRIMA487

I think maybe for other contestants. I really don't think anyone watches pageants anymore.

sunmo... sunmoonandstar

Billsfan I have to agree. If I was a child now I can guarantee I would be diagnosed with some form of autism. The last thing I want to do is use my inability to understand how to interact with other people as an excuse but it greatly affects every part of my life. As a teen I had to learn how to pretend to be normal, learn how to make eye contact(appropriately which is still difficult lol) and it's like memorizing what to do or say if xyz happens and it is very hard and doesn't always work out well. At the same time I do want to see children who may have an issue get help to overcome or improve it early so I don't want to see it be ignored either.

shann... shannipoo714

a diagnosis of PDD-NOS. doesn't mean everyone is on the high functioning end of the spectrum. i'm glad she is on the high functioning end, but please research what the diagnoses mean before making statements like that

happy... happyhappyPAmom

:D woot woot! Finally a positive post about autism!

nonmember avatar Grant Hays

What a poweful inspiring story. Bless this terrific beautiful girl in her endeavour to help autism awareness. Great noble work and turning around the miss america pageant to have more meaning and depth as well. Very impressive and very positive for Autism. thank you !

missusmc missusmc

Autism is much more than just being shy, and by and large, most are not misdiagnosed.  It isn't just the social issues.  It encompasses how you respond to stimuli around you and sensory processing.  I think it's great that people who don't have to want to learn more!  When my sons were diagnosed, I recognized some of the signs in myself too, which just goes to show autistic people aren't that different from everyone else.


and thank you for finally posting a positive story about autism!  

Pinst... Pinstripes4

She is beautiful inside and out. If a pageant such as this helps get her some airtime in furthering understanding about autism, I'm definitely rooting for her.

punky... punkysmom1125

I have two daughters on the spectrum and this story makes me so happy!  I love that this beautiful young woman embraces who she is with pride and sees it as a difference, not a disability.  As Temple Grandin, the most famous American with autism, says, "DIfferent, not less."


If you want to know more about girls and autism, I run a Facebook page for parents of girls on the spectrum.  Please check it out!  http://www.facebook.com/AutismGirls


And, to many of your comments, yes, many girls who were quirky and shy and awkward when we were growing up would probably be diagnosed on the mild end of the spectrum today.  The good news is now they are given support, but the stigma still remains and we need to work to make that go away.

CPN322 CPN322

Yes I do. This article made me smile and I think this is absolutely wonderful!! I do hope that she has a strong support group around her for the times when she will undoubtedly get overwhelmed.

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