Posted Asha Ellison on 3/14/2019 |General
Some girls are born unstoppable -- one of them is Haley Moss!
Steadfast and determined, 24-year-old Haley is paving the way, breaking the mold and making the world more inclusive for women and girls everywhere! Just this year, Haley made history as the first “openly autistic lawyer” in Florida and this is only the beginning of her incredible journey!
24-year-old Haley Moss is paving the way for girls and women worldwide.
Girls on the Run has the privilege to interview and partner with Haley, who is also a supporter of the 2019 #LetsTellHer campaign for Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day. Read on to learn more about this talented and prestigious woman who wows us!
Girls on the Run envisions a world where every girl knows and activates her limitless potential and is free to boldly pursue her dreams! How did you start to realize your own limitless potential and pursue the path to where you are today?
I actually started to realize this at home. I grew up in an extremely supportive household. My parents always have been my biggest cheerleaders. When I was 9 years old, we had a conversation about autism for the first time (in the context of Harry Potter). They explained that Harry was different from the Muggles (non-magic folks) he lived with and, even when he got to Hogwarts, he was also different from the other witches and wizards. But, he was still the hero of the story and his differences didn’t make him worse off. Thanks to my family’s guidance, I learned that, like Harry Potter, I too was different and had “magic” in me. I think finding and recognizing my “magic” by celebrating my strengths allowed me to pursue my dreams and nurture my passions, alongside a lot of encouragement from the village of people who supported me throughout my life.
How do you leverage your passion and strengths in your work as an autism advocate?
I’m an artist, author, attorney and an advocate. All of these hats I wear in various aspects of my life involve creativity and innovation. I have always been creative, even as a kid. I became an attorney because attorneys have the potential to make a difference every day. Law combines my love of writing and speaking, so even my career path is a marriage of strengths and passions. I also love to draw and paint; a lot of my artwork benefits nonprofits that work with people who have disabilities. I think I am able to help make a difference because my passion shines through and I am doing the things I enjoy for the greater good. Using your passions for causes and purposes bigger than yourself is a great way to help bring change into your community. It is a creative endeavor to find new ways to open dialogue and change perceptions.
How do you inspire other women and girls with autism through your work?
I hope that other autistic girls and women are able to embrace who they are and have the confidence and courage to authentically be themselves. So often autistic girls and women are “masking” as and blending in out of fear of discrimination, fear of being treated as less, as coping skills, or trying to make friends. Being yourself is liberating. Celebrating your autism is too. You not only can help others understand you and change hearts and minds, but you can make a difference in the lives of other girls and women, as well as your own. I strive to be the most real version of myself. I am open about what is hard for me but I celebrate who I am in its entirety. Sometimes I laugh at what is hard for me because I find having a positive attitude is much better than dwelling on the tough things. I also want to show other autistic women and girls that they do not have to accept the limits neurotypicals (non-autistic) people set on them and they can be anything they want to be.
What excites you most about working with Girls on the Run for the 2019 #LetsTellHer campaign for Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day?
What makes me excited is telling girls and women that other people can’t set limits for them, only they can set their own limits and exceed expectations. So often with autistic people, and girls and women too, we are told what we can and can’t do by other people. In our community, it is professionals or neurotypicals saying what we may not achieve someday. #LetsTellHer nothing is impossible and other people aren’t the ones who decide what she can do.
What insight or advice would you offer a young girl today?
You know yourself better than anybody! Pursue your passions. Your interests and hobbies may or may not change but you can keep growing along with the things you love. You are super talented and have so much to offer the world. The world needs you and your uniqueness. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
What would you say now to your 8-year-old self?
One day in the very near future, you’re really going to love pizza, enough to consider it a food group! You’re missing out.
Seriously though, trust yourself. Your interests are cool and you rock for shamelessly loving Pokémon and video games. Also, enjoy exploring your passions and be glad your village of people are nurturing them. You are creative. Keep drawing. Keep writing stories. Keep talking about things you love. Keep on being you!
We’d love to know: what are your plans for the future? How do you plan to continue changing the world for the better?
Other than trying to become the best lawyer I could be, I’m hoping to keep the autism conversation moving in a positive direction. Including autistic voices center stage is an integral part of changing the conversation we are having. I want the world to be accepting of neurodiversity – that our brains are all different and work differently (this includes people with intellectual disabilities!). It really would be boring if we were all the same. I want to live in a world where people with disabilities out in society who have jobs or families of their own are not exceptions, but the norm. If people like me are out there and showing the world we exist, and we are happy and proud of who we are, I am hopeful that I’ll get to see widespread neurodiversity and disability acceptance in my lifetime.
What is your quote to live by?
My mom always said, "Different isn’t bad. It’s just different. And different can be extraordinary.” It’s helped me stay true to who I am and know that being autistic isn’t a bad thing, having varying interests is great and that I am uniquely and unapologetically myself!