Alexis Wineman, who represents the state of Montana in the upcoming Miss America contest, is the first ever Miss America contestant to be diagnosed with autism.
The 18-year old Miss Montana is also the youngest woman vying this year for the coveted Miss America crown, which enables a young woman to travel the country and receive scholarship funds in order to realize her career dreams.
Wineman told the news media that she was diagnosed with autism as a young girl and cites statistics that one in every 88 people has some form of autism, a neural development disorder.
She told Fox she was diagnosed at the age of 11.
“For the longest time I just really wanted to know what was wrong with me,” she said. “When I was finally diagnosed I felt like it came too late.”
Miss Montana says that she exhibits only very mild symptoms right now, including difficulty in communicating at times as well as taking some things too literally.
Wineman says one of the reasons she entered the historic beauty contest is that if she wins the title, she will have a national platform to educate people about autism.
“Most people do not understand what autism is,” Wineman explains in her online finalist video. “And one in 88 people having some form of autism — this understanding is becoming more and more necessary.”
“We cannot cure what is not a sickness,” Miss Montana says in the video. “But we can begin to understand autism, and help those with the condition to unlock the potential that lies within all of us.”
What do you think of Alexis Wineman’s accomplishment?