Miss America 2013: Miss Montana Alexis Wineman is first autistic contestant

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For the first time in Miss America history, a contestant with autism will take the stage to compete in the 2013 pageant. Alexis Wineman, who is Miss Montana, is 18-years-old and she wants the world to know she is autistic.

"Most people do not understand what autism is," Wineman says in her online finalst video. "And one in 88 people having some form of autism -- this understanding is becoming more and more necessary." 

Wineman, whose Miss America platform would be "Normal is Just a Dryer Setting: Living with Autism," was diagnosed with a form of autism when she was in the seventh grade.

She has plans to be an art therapist, and says winning the Miss America pageant would give her the opportunity to bring autism awareness to the national stage. "We cannot cure what is not a sickness," says Miss Montana. "But we can begin to understand autism, and help those with the condition to unlock the potential that lies within all of us."

"The 2013 Miss America Competition" airs Sunday, Jan. 12 on ABC. Until then, you can watch Alexis' video submission below:

Photo/Video credit: Miss America Organization