By Martha Hewett @martha_hewett
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Videographer / director: Colin Weatherby, Charles Elmore
Producer: Martha Hewett, James Thorne
Editor: James Thorne
Autumn Kinkade may have been born with cerebral palsy, rendering her to use a walker, but she was also born with a sense of adventure that has enabled her to model all over the country.
The 18-year-old from Adair, Oklahoma, believes the fashion world should feature more disabled models to give other people with different challenges a try.
Her mother, Dawn, told Barcroft TV: “What makes me most proud of Autumn is that she doesn’t give up.
“Autumn lets other people that may have a disability see that you don’t have to be a size zero and six-foot tall. It’s been a slow process but the fashion world is starting to get more inclusive.”
With the support of her family, Autumn has featured on the runway, in magazines and on billboards for Super Models Unlimited. Autumn even took the crown for the Junior Teen award at Oklahoma Miss Amazing in 2014.
However, she insists she is still the same girl she has always been: “I don’t really get excited about being in magazines or on the runway, it’s hard for me to talk about my accomplishments.”
Autumn never dreamed of being a model and has always wanted to be a pastor as an adult.
“I love meeting new people and investing in their lives, because they may be going through something and I can be there for support.”
Autumn was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, a condition that affects coordination and the muscles, before she was born. Dawn was originally expecting twins.
She explains: “I went into hospital at 22 weeks and had to stay there until I delivered, Autumn had a twin brother but he wasn’t able to survive.
“Autumn was born one pound and 12 ounces strong and stayed in the hospital for the next three months.
“We were told they didn’t expect her to live, but I guess she had other plans.”
Despite her positive and confident nature, Autumn has experienced challenges – particularly in school:
“I remember feeling differently in school because I had to be in special education whilst my friends were in the mainstream class.
“I’d have to sit on a highchair in second grade whilst the others were sitting on the benches because I was really tiny, I was like a little toddler!”
However, Autumn credits her friends at school for helping her, and her peers even voted for her to be crowned Homecoming Queen.
Autumn doesn’t regard herself as disabled, explaining: “All my life I have considered myself a normal kid. Cerebral palsy does affect me with my everyday life, such as doing the dishes.
“I think modelling has made cerebral palsy more adventurous and just really fun.”
What’s next for Autumn? She’s graduated high school and her modelling career doesn’t seem to be slowing down just yet.
“My dream modelling shoot would be go to Paris, I have always wanted to go. But my goal is to be the first disabled pastor, I would like to be the first pastor with cerebral palsy.”
Dawn added: “I hope Autumn grows up and has a job that she loves. She just needs someone to give her a chance and look pass the fact that she does have a disability.”