Alexandria Hodnik, a 19-year-old woman from New York, has faced challenges stemming from Asperger’s syndrome for most of her life.
Due to the challenges of being on the autism spectrum, Hodnik told TODAY that she was “always shy” growing up and struggled to make friends.
Her mother explained how Alexandria’s Asperger’s meant she was very focused on structure and seemingly minor things like her mother putting her clothes on in the “wrong” order as a small child caused her great distress.
According to Hodnik and her mother, she always had issues with communication skills and anxiety, but that changed when she began competing in beauty pageants upon turning 18 last year.
Since she began competing, Hodnik has placed highly in several pageants.
She’s also used her appearances to speak about her desire to inspire others struggling with the challenges of being on the autism spectrum.
She told TODAY that competing in pageants has let her join a “sisterhood,” adding that “It’s just the most amazing feeling ever.”
Hodnik also discussed the personal growth that competing in pageants has helped her achieve, telling TODAY:
“Every time I go on stage I get scared, and that’s OK. It really does help me grow as a person because I’m actually getting something out there, making a difference to other people who have Asperger’s like me.”