Ms. Wiseman was diagnosed with autism when she was in seventh grade; it’s common that girls on the spectrum are diagnosed much later than boys.
“When that diagnosis came, you know, I was a kid,” she told NBC News. I didn’t care what it was. My life was ruined at that point. But it really helped. I finally got the help I needed. I found ways to cope.”
Her role as Miss Montana is giving her some amazing ways to raise awareness and reach out to kids with autism.
Growing up, she says, she was antisocial, and teased because of the way she spoke. It was only after her diagnosis that she began to find ways to face her fears and cope with the stress of every-day life. With the encouragement of her family, Ms. Wineman discovered a love of performing, and joined her school’s cheerleading squad. She eventually became team captain, and appeared in a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, reports Disability Scoop.
Ms. Wineman never thought she would participate in pageants. “I grew up hating pageants actually,” she told NBC News. ”I’d always watch it and think ‘Oh I can’t be that girl. I can’t do that.’ But by graduation I was like you know what, I’ve done a lot of things I didn’t think I could.”
Now she’s appearing at schools, hospitals, and conferences, encouraging others to embrace what sets them apart. Her pageant talent is comedy, and her platform is “Normal Is Just a Dryer Setting: Living With Autism.”
“I say why fit in when you were born to stand out,” she told Disability Scoop.
(Photo Credit: Miss Montana Scholarship Program)
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