First autistic 'Miss America' contestant

Alexis Wineman from Montana will be creating history on Saturday when she becomes the first autistic competitor in the "Miss America" pageant.

When the "2013 Miss America Competition" airs on ABC this Saturday, Miss Montana Alexis Wineman will be the first autistic competitor in the pageant's history.

Wineman was diagnosed with pervasive developmental disorder and borderline Asperger's syndrome at age 11. She told Time in an interview that her foray into the world of beauty pageants started as a "last-minute way to pay for college." "Around high school graduation, I realized I was the fourth child in my family to go to college, and there was no money left for me," she said. "I asked my mom about different ways to get scholarships, and she mentioned the Miss Montana competition, thinking I’d never go for it. But I did, and I won."

Wineman said that creating awareness about autism was a big part of her "Miss America" platform, “Normal is Just a Dryer Setting: Living with Autism.”

Wineman, at 18, is the youngest contestant in this year's pageant. She has captured a lot of support on Twitter, including endorsements from journalist Maria Shriver who asked her followers to vote for Wineman in the online voting of the Miss America Pageant. Wineman, who is known for her humor, will be doing stand-up comedy as her talent at the pageant's finals.

Votes for the "Miss America" pageant can be cast either online or on the "Miss America" Facebook page.


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