Haley Moss would be the first to tell you she’s unique. The Parkland native, now 24, was diagnosed with autism when she was 3.
Moss would also point out that being different isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
When she was diagnosed with high-functioning autism, her parents were told that raising a child with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) has many daily challenges. They were warned she might never live on her own or even develop the ability to work a minimum-wage job.
Moss has not let that diagnosis, or her disorder, limit her. The Pine Crest School alum, who resembles a petite Natalie Portman with bangs, has written multiple books, including A Freshman Survival Guide for College Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders: The Stuff Nobody Tells You About. She also recently earned a law degree from the University of Miami and, in January, became the first openly autistic person admitted to the Florida Bar.
An active advocate for those with ASD, Moss told the South Florida Sun Sentinel in February that her passion for helping others was one of the reasons she became a lawyer.
“A disability generally is not all-encompassing, it is just part of who someone is, not everything they are,” Moss told the newspaper. “Everyone is unique, everyone has strengths and weaknesses, and everyone has talent.”
Honored as one of South Florida’s Young Leaders in Philanthropy, Moss also is a recipient of the Council for Exceptional Children’s Yes, I Can! International Award. At February’s Unicorn Children’s Foundation’s Unicorn Ball, held at the Polo Club of Boca Raton, Moss received the Occhigrossi Family Youth in Service Award, which recognizes young people who advocate for those with special needs.
Already a seasoned writer and champion for people with autism, Moss has since launched her career in the legal profession, according to the Sun Sentinel. Offered a job even before graduating, Moss now works for the law firm Zumpano Patricios, based in Coral Gables. For information on ASD, visit the National Institutes of Mental Health website at NIMH.gov.