'ESSENCE Black Girl Magic' Episode 3: Junior Olympian Qaisera Alexis Defies All Odds

ESSENCE Black Girl Magic docu-series episode three tells the story of Qaisera Alexis—a 17-year-old who doctors feared would never have a fully functioning life after being diagnosed with autism.

ESSENCE.COM May, 16, 2016
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[MUSIC]. Even though I enjoy reading novels, [UNKNOWN] had never interested me that much. I ended up changing in the middle of my eighth grade year. One day in school, my English teacher had my class read a poem entitled, Still I Rise Is by Maya Angelou. Reading that poem has really changed my view on life. [MUSIC] Being human I have gone through many challenges in life. One of which was living with a disability. There were many people who thought that I would never be able to learn to speak properly. So they believed that I would never be able function in life. [MUSIC] In all honestly, my childhood was A bit difficult having to deal with the after effects of being autistic. When I was two, I was diagnosed with the disease which caused me to stop talking and develop a fear of water. When she suddenly stopped talking, that's when she was diagnosed as autistic. It was a big shock to all of us, because she wasn't at the beginning. It was a nightmare. Simple things like you know a person touching you, or water falling on you, wind blowing across you can be very painful and irritating for a person on the spectrum. And she was one of those people. I know for me elementary school it wasn't great at all. They will always make fun of my voice and me being different in general. They told us and you have got ten months window to get as much improvement in this child as you can expect to see because there after that the brain stigma/gg is going to close down. I remember the first thing they started doing was playing with bubbles. Of course, a bubble then pops and now you've got wet on your hand. But that was teaching her and training her mind to accept the touch of the water as a positive thing. My parents kept taking me to speech therapy. And I was able to start talking again when i was almost five years old. The regional center stops speech therapy [UNKNOWN] and I said my God has not told me to stop. We're just gonna keep on until the money runs out and we went into debt literally in less than a year. When I was 11, my mom had me audition for Los Angeles Children's Chorus and that was where I started learning how to sing classical [UNKNOWN] [MUSIC] [APPLAUSE] Not only have I managed to overcome a disability that a professional speech therapist told me I would never overcome, but I believe I've also accomplished a lot with my life too. [MUSIC] When I first started synchronised swimming, I was honestly indifferent to it cuz I just saw it as another activity my mom put me in. But then as I continued doing it and made better friends, and got better at it, I started to realize that I really liked it. [MUSIC] When you spend that much time with people, you grow close to them and Or good friendships that's something I really like about it. [MUSIC] She's managed to break into a sport that is predominantly a white female sport, and has been a junior olympian three times in that sport. I remember when she first started it there was that Some rather blatant racism going on and she persevered. There's a certain magic to seeing what you like saying I'm going for the gold, I'm going to try to take it even if people don't want me there. [MUSIC] [UNKNOWN], represent! Woo! After reading this poem, I realize that even though I had overcome my disability, I wanted to help others who were still struggling with theirs. As a part of Girl Scout I'm actually working on my gold award. And my gold award idea is to establish a synchronized women clinic where girls with special needs. I would just want these girls to know that they can do it and they have potential. And I realize what. A different special olympics made. And all I can say is don't give up, you've gone a long way and made a lot of progress. And you have just as much potential as anyone else. Just looking at You know where she came from and what she had to overcome and how much she pushes herself. And her goals and aspirations. It's basically magical. I honestly imagined myself having a fulfilling adult life. Professionally I'd like to become a pilot, either a commercial or a test pilot. I think I was around eight or nine, I had read an article about A kid was my age at the time who was flying planes and then I thought that's so cool. I wanna try that too. And then sometime it sunk in late after that that I could do this as a career and I was like why not? I know that if those first few years of life had gone differently I probably wouldn't be where I am. And now. One thing that i have learned about life is that no one will go through it without experiencing difficulties of varying degrees. Maya Angelou could have let her difficult childhood become an excuse to stop her from being successful. However, she did not do so. Even though I have not lived that long, I have experienced various challenges. And I know that as I get older and become an adult, I will have to overcome even more difficulties. I have learned to accept that even if I do not like the challenges that I am going through, they will be a part of life. And overcoming them can be extremely rewarding. [MUSIC]