For the first time in history a contestant for the Miss America pageant is autistic. On Jan. 8 Miss Montana winner Alexis Wineman speaks out about living life with autism and going from an "oddball" to beauty queen. Alexis says that she knows that autism has been and always will be a big part of her life and she feels that more people should know about it because it is becoming a more common topic in homes across the nation.
At the age of 11, Miss Montana was diagnosed with Pervasive Development Disorder and borderline Asperger's Syndrome. Now, Miss Wineman is in the unique position to raise awareness as she takes the platform in her pursuit of a national title. With autism affecting one in 88 children, a frank discussion needs to be had about the topic and the issue needs to be addressed. Many children do not receive proper treatment for this possibly detrimental neurological disorder because many parents simply think that their child needs an attitude adjustment, not physical, occupational and behavioral therapy to help them live a more highly functioning life.
As a contestant for the Miss America pageant, Alexis has to have a 'platform issue' which she has chosen autism. She made a video called "Normal is just a dryer setting: Living with autism" where she discusses social challenges in school saying, "Socializing with my classmates, even when I wanted to, was awkward to say the least. I wouldn't get their jokes half the time. I took everything so literally."
Despite this, often times, debilitating social challenge Wineman's family pushed her to try out for cheerleading and other social activities at school. She found great success in cheering and even became squad captain with few challenges. Since winning Miss Montana, Alexis has spent her time educating people throughout the state about developmental disabilities. In regards to this, she says that she finds it amazing that so many are adverse to difference. It's not something to shy away from but embrace.
This weekend the pageant will take place in Las Vegas. Miss Montana lists her talent as comedic monologue, to which she intends on talking about her challenges and having to wear heels, something she didn't practice and finds very challenging.