Miss Bluffdale 2021 - Madison Sansom

Hi! I am your 2021 Miss Bluffdale Madison Sansom. My platform is: Uniquely Human: Celebrating Autism

An estimated 1 in 59 children in the United States is affected by autism. “Autism, or autism spectrum disorder (ASD), refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech, and nonverbal communication.” (autismspeaks.org) Dr. Barry M. Prizant said it best, “Autism is not an illness or affliction. It’s a different way of being human.” It is our privilege as humans to learn to be loving and kind to those with autism spectrum disorder and continually work to accommodate different behaviors and needs rather than expecting others to adapt to us. 

I am passionate about building communities and fostering environments that are inclusive and flexible to the special needs and circumstances many children are faced with. To help ensure equity in my community, my platform is Uniquely Human: Celebrating Autism. People living with autism often have very different challenges than most neurotypical individuals understand. As an educator, I know that knowledge is power. When we equip our students with an understanding of the autistic brain, they are more empathetic, compassionate, and sensitive to the challenges many individuals on the autism spectrum face.

 It is my goal that through my involvement in the community, I will guide others towards breaking through the barriers of autism spectrum disorders. In order to do this, my sister and I wrote and published a children’s book titled “Uniquely Me: A Child's View on Autism”. Our story follows young children struggling with the way their autistic traits and characteristics appear to their neurotypical peers. Our story sheds light on the struggles and frustrations many individuals with autism experience.  To a child and even some adults, autistic traits may seem weird or rude, but once they understand the reason behind their peers’ seemingly rude or passive behavior, they can begin to build meaningful relationships together. 

At 9 years old, my little brother, Mason, was diagnosed with a high-functioning form of autism known as Asperger's Syndrome. Growing up with a sibling on the autism spectrum, I have seen first-hand the way individuals with autism have to struggle with even the very basic of social interactions. It made me so sad to see how neighborhood kids and his classroom peers would treat him just because he is different. Sometimes it is easier for neurotypical people to avoid interacting with people who are different because they don’t understand or don’t know how to include them or how to respond to their differences. It is my goal to bridge that gap and build an understanding of the special needs of others. 

There are many resources available to help individuals on the autism spectrum learn social skills, coping strategies, and sensory regulation techniques, but not much is done to help neurotypically developing children learn to accept and better interact with their autistic peers. I want to change this. The hope of my platform is to lessen the assumptions made about children with autism.  As Maya Angelou says, “Do the best you can until you know better, then when you know better, do better.”  My hope is for all of us to do better.