Alexis Wineman, Miss Montana 2012, is the first autistic contestant in the Miss America pageant. This morning, she talked to Gretchen Carlson about some of the challenges that autism causes her, which include meltdowns and problems understanding nonliteral language. One of the ways she copes is by pacing.
I think I should be the next Miss America because the world needs to know that even a girl who has a few differences and was labeled an outcast at first is Miss America material.
You can help win Alexis a place in the finals by voting for her here.
The pageant is Saturday night.
Aut and Proud
Basketball sensation Jason McElwain finished a marathon in Rochester, New York, and has qualified for the Boston Marathon.
Miss Montana, Alexis Wineman, talked about her autism at the Childwise Institute's conference:
“By the time graduation rolled around, I was proud of who I was, and I was confident that I had overcome this vicious circle in which I had been sinking,” she said. “I graduated high school, which was something I previously felt was impossible.”
She said she surprised everybody when the decided to enter the Miss Montana program. She told people she wanted to prove to others what she could do; but really, she said, she wanted to prove it to herself.
Now, she has been accepted to the University of Montana, and is deferring enrollment for a year and still looking at her options. She’s slated to be on a national stage — the Miss America pageant — in Las Vegas in January.
“Being on the (autism) spectrum is not a death sentence, but a life adventure, and one that I realize has been given to me for a reason,” she said.
Renzo Burga has a 4.0 GPA at Broward college.
Mary and Jack Robison are running their own business making parts and add-ons for 3D printers. Jack says:
3D printing is in the process of revolutionizing traditional methods of making things. I think small printers like the RepRap will ultimately leave the world of hackers and become consumer electronics, much like computers did 30 years ago. Individuals and companies will be able to directly manufacture the things they need, for significantly less cost than the things are currently available for. My original plan to use the printer to make parts for my quadrocopter is a small-scale example of this, but the potential is limitless.
It'll have significant effects on education too. Students will be able to make whatever they can draw, perhaps giving a new generation of engineers much more hands-on experience at a very young age.
Jack's father John Elder is working with them and continues to speak about autism, telling his audience that the world needs us.
Miss Montana, Alexis Wineman, blogs for Autism Speaks about being diagnosed with autism at age 11 and finding success in high school:
Autistic? Great, another name for people to call me other than retarded. Whatever this autism thing was, it ruined my life before I had a chance to live it. But to my surprise things started to get better in high school. People started to back off and through programs like speech & drama and cross country I was able to make some great friends. Graduation became possible and I finished high school with high grades. When I told my parents that I wanted to compete in the Miss Montana program it was a complete shock to them. I grew up hating anything that resembled a pageant. I remember how I would watch the Miss America program when I was younger and seeing those beautiful, intelligent women who, no matter the outcome, had a great future ahead of them. I thought that I could never have a future worth looking forward to and I thought that the confidence and grace these women had was too out of my reach. Looking back, I realize how foolish I was. I have already done so many things I never thought I could do. I’ve run three miles without stopping, spoken in front of many people, qualified for the National Honor Society, and was able to graduate high school with an acceptance to college.
Alexis Wineman was just crowned Miss Montana. And she's autistic. Her platform is "Normal is just a dryer setting” – Living with Autism. Alexis is a comedian and an artist.
Despite what the news anchor in the video here says, Alexis is not struggling with autism. And, nope, she's not triumphing over it or in spite of it.
She's autistic. And, obviously, totally awesome.
Happy Austistic Pride Day.