Meet Sophie K.
Sophie K., 23
I am authentic and myself all the time. Because I'm enthusiastic, people are happy when I'm with them.
If ever a person was born to perform show tunes in front of hundreds of theater fans each night, it’s 23-year-old Sophie. With her colorful hair, beaming smile and boisterous personality, this New Jersey native tends to steal the spotlight everywhere she goes, so it’s no wonder she has dreams of performing on the grand stages of Broadway.
Sophie began singing when she was 15 years old and credits her mom, Anne, for helping her to find her voice. Even before she could speak, she says it was her mom who helped her to express herself and encouraged her to always use her voice to “let her sparkle shine bright.”
“My mom has been tremendously supportive. She is loving, caring and understanding. My dad passed away when I was young, so she did everything. She helped me to understand what it means to be myself.”
Sophie was diagnosed with autism just four months before her second birthday. Her mom said once she received the official diagnosis, she made it her mission to teach her daughter that being true to herself was paramount.
“She is always enthusiastic. The best word I can use to describe her would be ‘sparkly,’ with a tattoo to match,” Anne said. “She sings, loves everything Japanese, is a movie buff, loves Hiyao Miyazaki, is a true foodie and loves info about other cultures. She’s always been very curious, incredibly funny and just lights up a room.”
Learn more about Sophie through her own words in this edition of Spectrum Spotlights.
At what age were you diagnosed with autism?
I was 20 months old when I was diagnosed.
When did you realize what it meant to be on the autism spectrum?
I started to realize what it meant to be on the spectrum when I had difficulty making friends, doing schoolwork and understanding what it means to be "different.” It was hard for me in the beginning – it seemed hard to be in the world. But I was a happy and friendly as a kid.
What struggles have you faced because of your autism?
When I was very young, I didn't speak. That made me very frustrated. Not being able to say how I felt, what I wanted or what I was thinking was very hard. I have dyscalculia, which makes it hard to tell time and count. Sometimes people were mean to me because I was different. I was bullied. I didn't know why people were mean to me, because I was a nice kid. I was always friendly and happy-go-lucky.
In what areas has autism helped you excel?
I realized that being autistic is part of me. I'm outgoing, enthusiastic, friendly, kind and a good friend. I'm also creative. I started singing when I was 15 years old. I sing on stage, and I'm never afraid. Singing is my absolute favorite thing to do. 💖
What makes Sophie K. unique?
I am authentic and myself all the time. Because I'm enthusiastic, people are happy when I'm with them. I have a great sense of humor. And I'm kind of dramatic, too! I'm interested in everything Japanese. I love musical theater, learning about different cultures and languages, movies, animé and manga, cooking and traveling.
What are some of your biggest personal accomplishments?
I'm proud that I am training to become a Broadway singer. I'm proud that I made a lot of friends. I'm proud that I learned why it's okay to be myself. I'm proud that I can bring joy to people's lives. I’m proud for being brave!
What are your some of your goals for the future?
My goal is to be the first person on the spectrum to play Christine Daaé in "Phantom of the Opera" on Broadway. I want to go to Japan, meet the Jonas Brothers, have an apartment in the city with my boyfriend and three cats, travel and also win a Tony Award!
What advice would you give to a young person, recently diagnosed with autism, wondering what the future holds for them?
Understand who you are and be that person. 💖
Why is it important to you to advocate for other autistic people?
To help them figure out what their dreams are and help them achieve them.
If you could go back in time and give the younger version of yourself a piece of advice, what would you say?
Always be yourself because that's what you're best at!
What five words would you use to best describe yourself to the world?
Brave. Beautiful. Sparkly. Compassionate. Sensitive.