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Meet Alexis Wineman, The First Autistic Miss America Contestant

Miss Montana will make pageant history when she vies for the crown this weekend.

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Alexis was labeled "different" and "difficult" during elementary and middle school. She was bullied and teased for her speech impediment and eventually stopped talking to avoid attention, descending into self-abusive behavior.

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After a two-year process that included counseling, a battery of tests, and behavioral medicine, Alexis was diagnosed with Pervasive Developmental Disorder, including borderline Asperger’s syndrome at age 11.

Alexis was able to develop strategies for coping with her condition during her last year of middle school. Encouraged by her family, she joined the cross-country team, cheerleading squad, and drama group in high school.

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Since her crowning, Alexis has formed partnerships with special needs groups Autism Speaks, AbilityPath and Generation Rescue and spoken at schools and autism conferences around Montana.

Alexis speaks about her condition in her official Miss America 2013 video:

View this video on YouTube