I am Arica Todd Mrs. Idaho International 2020. I was born and raised in Boise Idaho. I have my Bachelor of Science in psychology with pre-occupational therapy from Boise State University. After I got my degree I had the amazing opportunity to teach children with special needs and I soon truly saw what amazing work teachers do every day for their students, but saw many teachers struggling financially. So I took a leap into politics where I got to work for Governor Brad Little whose priority is to promote a strong public education system and at that time had the goal to increase starting teachers’ pay which passed legislation successfully! With seeing what a positive difference can happen I have stuck with it and work at Risch Pisca a law and policy firm with proud and longstanding ties to Idaho history in law and politics. I also own my own business 208 Healthy Vending where my husband and I share our love for a healthy lifestyle by supplying healthy vending machine snacks to businesses and schools throughout Idaho. My husband Brad and I have been together for 5 years and I thank God every day for blessing me with such a wonderful man. We do everything together from running a business to enjoying our hobbies such as skiing, target shooting and our favorite drag racing. Drag racing has a special place in our hearts and we spend our summers burning rubber and traveling to different racetracks. We love racing so much that we named our fur child Dragster and he comes to every race with us. Dragster is one spoiled pup as well as our 7 amazing nieces and nephews.
Family means the world to us and in September of 2015 my nephew needed my families support when he was diagnosed with nonverbal autism. In October of 2017 my cousin was also diagnosed with autism. Approximately 1 in 54 children are diagnosed with autism yearly and more than 3.5 million Americans live with a form of autism.
The biggest issues my nephew, cousin, and family experience is the lack of understanding the general population has regarding autism. When my nephew gets upset due to sensory overload people look at us and judge without understanding autism. My cousin faces kids bullying her in school because her autism affects her communication, social skills, and the way she learns. Many people are unaware of disabilities that may not be as noticeable physically such as this one therefore they exclude, bully, and judge. I have been an advocate for autism acceptance for many years and have always had a passion to help those with any disability be included and respected. I have been lucky enough to have this pageant system to reach thousands of people and help spread the message of autism acceptance and if I am blessed enough to be the next Mrs. International I look forward spreading this message across the world. I have and will continue to help those with autism get the chance to be heard, I will continue to educate the world on autism so more and more people have an understanding, and I will continue to spread the message of autism acceptance not only to make the world a better place for my nephew and cousin, but for everyone in autistic communities around the world.
There are so many great ways to spread acceptance some as easy as what I call my “autism rocks” where I paint rocks and write a message of autism acceptance to leave places I go for others to find! I hope you will join me wherever you may be in painting a rock with a message for autism acceptance and post it where you leave it with the hashtag #AutismAcceptanceRocks.
I have also started my own program Without Limits where my mission is to help the autistic community feel without limits by providing resources and a positive group community as well as share educational pieces for others to learn more about autism and much more.
You can follow my journey to Mrs. International on Facebook @MrsIdahoIntl2020, Instagram @AricaTodd and my #MrsIdahoIntl2020
Remember, “Autism isn’t a choice however, acceptance is.