Alabama Teen with Autism Wins Miss Photogenic at Local Pageant: 'Just Outstanding'

Jada Braxton said in a recent interview that she wants "autistic girls to know that they have a voice"

Jada Braxton
Photo: nishabrax/Instagram

An Alabama teenager is celebrating big time after being crowned Miss Photogenic at the Miss Saraland pageant.

Jada Braxton, who was diagnosed with autism at age 7, took home the honor on Jan. 22.

"I was surprised, and I was glad they called my name to be Miss Photogenic," Jada, now 17, told Fox 10 following the pageant.

Her mother, Danisha Braxton, shared the significance of Jada winning the title. "By her being autistic, one of the characteristic traits is not being able to make direct eye contact, especially when she's taking pictures," she told the outlet. "For her to win just based off of her picture is just outstanding."

"By her winning Miss Photogenic, she is a face now to autism," Danisha added. "This is autism, this is what autism looks like."

Reflecting on her decision to join the pageant, Jada — who told Fox 10 that she plans to enter the pageant again next year — shared that she wants "autistic girls to know that they have a voice."

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Following Jada's win, the proud mom also shared her daughter's story on Instagram.

"You have done it once again," Danisha said in a sweet message dedicated to Jada. "You refuse to be labeled. You refuse to be held to limits."

"The judges chose you for you," she added, explaining Jada's win is "a big deal" for the autism community.

She continued, "I betcha if anyone could tell those judges that the person they chose as Miss Photogenic has special needs...they would be shocked."

In another post that featured footage from the pageant, including Jada's big win, Danisha recalled Jada telling her she wanted to join the pageant, saying, "Mom I want other autistic girls to know that they can do this too."

"Jada you are shining the brightest light on you and your special needs peers," she added. "You are showing the community that you all just want to be included and accepted. Continue to be that voice for others make me so proud."

She saluted Jada's bright personality in a carousel, applauding the teen's "joy," "laughter" and "impromptu dance moments."

"You are the rainbow behind any rainy day," she concluded. "You are truly LOVE. You are an inspiration to so many people. You do not let your autism stop you from dreaming and achieving. It is such an honor and a blessing to be your mom.

Advocacy organization Autism Speaks also shared Jada's special news on its Instagram page, noting that the high school junior "refuses to let her autism limit her from achieving goals that she sets for herself."

The statement continued, "When a lot of people see and meet Jada, they say 'Well she doesn't look autistic.' So her winning this award lets people know that autism doesn't have a 'look.' "

"Jada is beautiful both inside and out," the message added. "Jada continues to knock down barriers and educates her peers on autism. She wants other girls with autism to know that they can and will do anything they set their mind to. They are not defined by their autism."

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