Miss America premieres this Saturday and people are buzzing about Alexis, the first woman diagnosed on the autism spectrum to enter the Miss America pageant. Although she will have many cheering for her, it wasn’t an easy road. “It’s been an amazing, wonderful journey so far,” she said. However, Alexis makes it clear that growing up was difficult, and she encountered bullying while in school. According to her, growing up was “stressful.”
Autism is a rare disorder, which affects the development of the brain. There are various types of autism, and that’s why it is often referred to as on the “spectrum.” The characteristics can include: difficulty in social situations, verbal and nonverbal communication, and repetitive behavior.
Research from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggest that 1 in 88 American children are on the autism spectrum.
The pageant queen didn’t have a clear diagnosis until she was 11-years-old. At that point, she received a diagnosis of pervasive developmental disorder and borderline Asperger’s syndrome. She credits using her coping skills to help get through difficult times. Furthermore, she has been using her platform to educate individuals about autism and has partnered with Autism Speaks.
If laughter is truly the best form of medicine, Alexis hopes to make viewers laugh when she does her stand-up comedy for the talent portion of the competition. Her topic will focus on women’s body image.
Will her comedy be enough to beat out 52 other contestants? You’ll have to watch the Miss America pageant when it airs Saturday, Jan.12 at 9 p.m. (ET) on ABC.