Woman with autism becomes first-known Florida attorney on spectrum

A young woman made history as the first person to be open about her autism and practice law in Florida

Parkland native Haley Moss, who is on the autism spectrum, was admitted to The Florida Bar in January.

Not only did Moss graduate from University of Miami School of Law, she also works at a top law firm in Miami and has published several books to inspire others on the spectrum.

Photo courtesy of Florida Attorney Haley Moss.

“I’ve been working tirelessly to help change the conversation about autism,” Moss told WINK News during a video chat. “I’m one of the first that we know of that’s open about it.”

Although, Moss has gained the distinction as the first known practicing lawyer with autism, she said there could be more in the workforce.

“I’m sure there’s plenty of people who might be un-diagnosed or aren’t talking about it out of fear of discrimination or not feeling confident talking about it,” Moss said.

The Parkland native was diagnosed at an early age.

“I’m on the autism spectrum,” Moss said. “I was diagnosed when I was 3 years old.”

Photo courtesy of Haley Moss.

Doctor’s believed Moss would never be able to work a minimum-wage job or earn her driver’s license, Moss posted on Facebook. The professional diagnosis did not stop her from her personal goals.

“My advice is to not set limits,” Moss said. “Being different isn’t less. It isn’t bad. It’s just different, and different can be extraordinary.”

Moss does not set boundaries for herself regarding what she wants to achieve for herself.

“There are plenty of things that are difficult for me, but I want you to see what I’m good at,” Moss said.

The 21-year-old attorney is now practicing health and international law at a prestigious law firm in Miami. Moss hopes her journey can show anyone living with autism that it’s possible to achieve your goals.

“The biggest misconception is to not see us not just for disabilities,” Moss said. “To see us for what we can do rather for what we can’t and, to see us for our strength rather than our weaknesses.”

Companies are recognizing people who live on the autism spectrum. CBS News reported last year, 50 big-name companies, including JP Morgan, Ford and Ernst & Young, held a summit to hire more adults with autism into the workplace.

“I think it’s absolutely important to hire people on the autism spectrum,” Moss said. “Many of us are unemployed or underemployed.”

Moss has written two published books – “Middle School – The Stuff Nobody Tells You About: A Teenage Girl with ASD Shares Her Experiences” and “A Freshman Survival Guide for College Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders : The Stuff Nobody Tells You About!”

“Everybody has different gifts and talents,” Moss said. “And it’s up to parents and people on the spectrum to explore and nurture those talents and gifts.”

Reporter:John-Carlos Estrada
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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