Miss Montana Alexis Wineman is the first autistic contestant to participate in the Miss America pageant.
At 18, she will also be this year’s youngest contestant.
She told Fox she was diagnosed at the age of 11.
“For the longest time I just really wanted to know what was wrong with me,” she said. “When I was finally diagnosed I felt like it came too late.”
Wineman is said to have “very mild symptoms,” that cause her struggles to communicate. She also said she often takes things too literally.
“I try my best to overcome that,” she said of her symptoms. “It’s a part of who I am.”
Wineman hopes to use the exposure to spread autism awareness.