Medical Condition Won't Stop Model From Competing

Girl competes for "Top Model" despite suffering from Asperger's syndrome.

Nov. 29, 2007 — -- Heather Kuzmich made it to the final five competitors on "America's Next Top Model," despite suffering from Asperger's Syndrome, a form of autism.

Asperger's is a developmental disorder that makes understanding social interactions difficult. Kuzmich made no secret of her disability.

For someone with Asperger's, even the best of days can be a struggle. But she's happy she went on "Top Model" and says she "got a lot of confidence and a lot of friends from it."

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After being eliminated from the show Wednesday night, Kuzmich spoke to Diane Sawyer on "Good Morning America" today about her disability and her experience.

"I wanted to prove that I could do this. Since I've been here, I learned so much. I learned to be more confident, I learned to not always be so self-conscious," she said.

Asperger's is a relatively unknown disorder, making Kuzmich one of the first people to bring the issue into the public spotlight.

"It actually was a big step for me when I first got on the show. I came out the first few moments and just told everyone," she said.

She said it took courage to come right out and talk about her condition, but she did it so that she wouldn't be misunderstood.

"I wanted people … [to know] and not just look at me like I'm a freak of nature. I also wanted to show other girls who possibly had this disability that it's possible to do modeling and to do what they want to do."

Kuzmich, who was diagnosed with Asperger's and ADHD when she was 13, is a student at the Illinois Institute of Art in Chicago. There is no cure or medication for Asperger's, but the symptoms can often be alleviated through behavior therapy.

To find out more about Asperger's Syndrome check out the Autism Society Online.

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