A Texas teenager was told that she couldn’t compete in beauty pageants because of being diagnosed with autism and a seizure disorder. But she didn’t let that stop her from pursuing her childhood dream.
Despite it being her first time competing, and with her service dog by her side, Alison Appleby impressed a panel of judges and now holds the title of Miss Texas Teen 2022.
Since Alison was a child, she dreamt of competing in the pageant circuit. But she didn’t think it was possible for someone like her.
“I’ve always dreamed of being a pageant girl, but it just never seemed like I could do it. The judges didn’t let my disability change how they saw me — they judged me as a person,” she said.
The seventeen-year-old was diagnosed with epilepsy, otherwise known as seizure disorder, only two years ago. While she was diagnosed with autism at the age of two, her epilepsy had been mistaken for anxiety and other things for 16 years.
There are many different types of seizures, and not all of them involve motor symptoms. Allison experiences focal, or absent seizures, so she essentially “stares into space.” Brady, her service dog in training, assists by alerting her to oncoming seizures. He is also learning how to fetch her medication.
When a judge was interviewed, she explained that it was Alison’s interview that earned her the crown.
“Alison really won the entire pageant in interview. She was just absolutely amazing — the way that she spoke, she was very intelligent, very communicative with our judges. She’s just a phenomenal woman all the way around.” — Miss Dallas pageant director Jennifer Ortiz.
At the crowning ceremony, both Alison and Brady were bestowed with beautiful crowns. Though, Brady was not really a fan of having it on his head.
Alison was absolutely shocked to have won, with her victory not truly hitting her until days later. She had entered with the intention of having fun and advocating for other girls with disabilities. She hadn’t actually expected to win. After all, it was the first pageant she’d ever entered, and she was extremely nervous.
“I was terrified the whole time… but having Brady by my side made it so much easier. He is my support through it all,” Alison said.
But now that she has taken the crown, Alison hopes to inspire others with disabilities to do their best and reach for their dreams. In her interview, she explained that just because she has a chronic illness, it doesn’t mean that she’s chronically ill.
Featured Image: Instagram