Miss Montana, Alexis Wineman, is the first Miss America contestant diagnosed with autism.
She is considered highly functioning, but the 18-year-old says she was ridiculed in school because of a speech impediment and intense shyness.
"Growing up I barely hung out with any one. The girl you're seeing right now is not the girl you would have seen 10 years ago. I have overcome a lot, I've overcome so many of my symptoms," Wineman said.
Wineman credits her family with helping her become comfortable with herself. She says that enabled her to get out and try new things.
Beauty queens vie for Miss America title in Vegas
A parade of beauties from every state are primping and prepping to compete for the Miss America crown Saturday night.
The show at the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino on the Las Vegas Strip is the culmination of a week of preliminary competitions and months of practice.
Each of the beauty queens has already proven her poise, charm and volubility by winning her state crown.
After an opening number, the judges will announce 16 finalists.
The women will strut their stuff in swimsuit, evening gown, talent and interview competitions, with cuts after each round until a new Miss America is crowned.