When Haley Moss was young, doctors told her parents she would have difficulty living on her own, potentially never able to hold a minimum wage job. Now, she's graduated law school, and become the first openly-autistic person admitted to the Florida Bar.
Moss was diagnosed being on the autism spectrum when she was 3-years-old. As a toddler, she could read and do jigsaw puzzles, but she didn't speak. She finally started speaking at the age of 4.
The young lawyer told CBS News,
"I first shared my story at a conference when I was 13 years old. I've always enjoyed getting to connect and share."
And she's not kidding.
When I was diagnosed with autism at age 3, my parents were told I’d be lucky if I got a driver’s license or even ma… https://t.co/D6eKXXCePs— Haley Moss (@Haley Moss)1547481605.0
@WCJB20 Thanks for sharing my story! I’m a @UF alum so lots of love for North Central Florida 🐊❤️— Haley Moss (@Haley Moss)1550439451.0
@Queb28 There are plenty of #ActuallyAutistic folks who do not disclose due to discrimination, fear, or other reaso… https://t.co/MTUknmMuHc— Haley Moss (@Haley Moss)1550347429.0
@laney_lam @NeuroRebel @Dead_Suzi @KVUE Wow. The first time I saw my story shared beyond my local paper I saw an ed… https://t.co/CNkdSwBVWj— Haley Moss (@Haley Moss)1550493166.0
Before becoming a lawyer, she wrote her first book Middle School — The Stuff Nobody Tells You About: A Teenage Girl with ASD Shares Her Experiences when she was 15-years-old. A few years ago, she published a follow-up called A Freshman Survival Guide for College Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders: The Stuff Nobody Tells You About!
Moss has contributed essays to collections on people living the autistic experience.
She's also been very active in speaking engagements, doing her best to spread her story and shine a light on people with autism.
"I've always been raised to give back and help others in need and help the community. It takes a village to raise a child, and it takes an even bigger village to raise a child with a disability.
"I realized by sharing my story, I could be a part of someone else's village."
The 24-year-old attorney had an employer lined up after graduating last year, contingent on her passing the bar.
She did just that last month.
Her story is very inspiring and gives hope to others, especially neurotypical parents of autistic children.
@wsvn As a mother of an autistic child myself, I truly find this inspiring. WTG Haley! 👏🏻— I Hate BankofAmerica ♿️ (@I Hate BankofAmerica ♿️)1550510940.0
Inspiring and inspired. I am not only impressed by the accomplishments of #HaleyMoss, I am also heartened to see th… https://t.co/P2QoBNQHgA— Alberto M. Carvalho (@Alberto M. Carvalho)1550581672.0
@ksatnews I've been in the education field for 32 yrs and this is certainly a wonderful and encouraging piece of in… https://t.co/aGTdmU7ybK— Jackie Ledford (@Jackie Ledford)1550547734.0
Both Moss and her employer believe she is the first practicing, openly-autistic lawyer in Florida.
"There are plenty of things that are difficult for me, but I want you to see what I'm good at,"
"I think it's absolutely important to hire people on the autism spectrum. Many of us are unemployed or underemployed."
It's very possible another Florida lawyer may be autistic, but considering support for people on the spectrum is low, they may not be open about their diagnosis.
@ksatnews Given maybe 1 in 30 lawyers is autistic, it shows how many have to hide a diagnosis, due to the relentles… https://t.co/LBDARqLWWd— Ann Memmott (@Ann Memmott)1550480658.0
@AstridCoxon @NeuroRebel @ksatnews Two sources: Latest CDC figures from USA, adjusted to add in the missed-from-dia… https://t.co/WSKXzVq442— Ann Memmott (@Ann Memmott)1550493563.0
I saw a comment about me being “openly autistic” as a word choice following today’s story. Being “open” is a choic… https://t.co/Z2RMMOzeW3— Haley Moss (@Haley Moss)1549673446.0
My employer knew I was autistic before they even met me. That never stopped them from interviewing or hiring me eit… https://t.co/0FYlPqXEuw— Haley Moss (@Haley Moss)1549673630.0
Moss is now practicing law. Her focus is on health care and international matters, along with advocacy for people on the spectrum. She has no plans to stop writing and creating art.