Alexis Wineman is heading to the Miss Montana pageant next week, and while she's there, she'll be sharing her story–one of passion, determination, and optimism. Alexis' platform, "Normal is Just a Dryer Setting–Living with Autism" stems from her own personal journey to overcome obstacles. Read on to get her take on pageants, platforms, and living life to its fullest!
"I chose "Normal is Just a Dryer Setting–Living with Autism" as my platform not just because it is a great cause to support but because I am autistic and live this lifestyle daily. I was diagnosed with PDD-NOS (Pervasive Developmental Disorder- Not Otherwise Specified) when I was in the seventh grade and when they told me I actually felt relieved. All those years when I would wonder what was wrong with me and to finally have the answer was great. But even when I knew what it was I still felt ashamed that I wasn’t like everyone else and I was often picked on because of it. But during the last couple of years I learned that I don’t have to be embarrassed over something that’s a part of who I am. I am a high school graduate who is on her way to college and I refuse to let autism get in my way. I realize that I will have quite a few challenges in my future, but thanks to the support of my family and friends, I learned that it’s not the challenge that defines you, it’s how you overcome it.
"This is my first time participating in the MAO system. When I was a junior in high school I competed and won the local Distinguished Young Woman scholarship and went on to compete at the state program. Although I did not place there, the confidence I gained allowed me to think about stepping further out of my comfort range in the future. I am super excited to be in the Miss Montana scholarship program and every experience I have only provides me with a greater sense of confidence.
"If crowned Miss Montana I plan on spreading the word about autism awareness by visiting schools and families all across the state. I want to tell kids that living on the spectrum does not have to hold them back or get in their way. I’d show them that normality is a myth that they don’t need to strive for. I feel I would also be able to speak with the families of these children and discuss the daily issues and challenges they face. The crown would provide me a “platform” to get people’s attention, but my life experience would provide the credibility behind the message. Autism Spectrum Disorders are only disabling if you let them be, but with a little confidence it becomes an adventure. Even if a giant leap forward requires two steps backward, you still need to be wiling to take the first jump."
Source and photo: Alexis Wineman