When I was just three years old, I was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
The doctors told my parents that I might never speak or go to school.
Indeed, I did not speak until the age of five.
My family gave me so much love and always tried to include me everywhere. They understood that I needed constant support and motivation. We comprised a team of therapists and teachers all pushing me to get better.
When my dad introduced me to the game of golf, I spent countless hours on the course with him. Golf was so different from other sports. No need to talk to people, lots of routine and rules. To me, golf became a safe environment.
My dad shared with me his competitive spirit, and ultimately it became my passion.
Later on, I would start competing across Europe but would only have the opportunity to play in the United States once or twice a year.
At 16, I had the opportunity to move to the Bahamas with my family. Leaving a place I had called home for 15 years to now live in a completely different country was very challenging. I was fortunate to join a golf academy where I was able to pursue my passion for golf as well as academics at the same time.
The transition was not easy, but I knew that I could rely on my family and new friends to get help.
During my junior and senior years of high school, I played in the United States more regularly. I started travelling often and would play in more tournaments than I ever did back home in Switzerland.
I competed in junior tournaments around the US and would play against some of the best players in the country.
I was taking my game to the next level.
Ever since my sister, Albane, went to the US to pursue her dream and joined a college golf program, I knew that I wanted to follow in her footsteps and do the same.
That was my dream.
During my two years of high school in the Bahamas, I sent my profile to a lot of coaches, hoping for an opportunity.
One day I got a response from Coach Parra — the head golf coach at SMU.
When he offered me to join his program, it was a no-brainer.
It was a dream come true.
I knew I was going to be a Mustang.
The transition to SMU was one of initial shock. In both Geneva and the Bahamas, the high schools I attended were small.
The SMU campus in comparison was large, beautiful, and overwhelming.
It took me some time to adjust.
It wasn’t until the night of September 30 in my freshman year, though, that I knew I had found my home away from home.
It was after 9pm in the evening, when I began to feel a shooting pain in the right side of my stomach.
I did not know a lot of people at SMU at the time.
But several members of the men’s and women’s golf teams came to my help. They dropped everything to take me to the hospital to get checked out.
Although Covid restrictions did not allow for people to stay in the hospital at the time, my teammates stayed up all night, hanging by their phone waiting for any news. Even in the days after my emergency appendectomy, they took care of me. I barely knew them, and yet they protected me like we had been friends forever.
These same people are now my closest friends.
I then knew for sure that SMU was my new home.
Despite the challenges that came with my autism, here I am — a proud member of the SMU golf team.
Today, I study political science and am working on a minor in law and legal reasoning.
When I was diagnosed with autism, the predictions of me ever beating the syndrome were low. Today, I live the life of a normal 21-year-old student-athlete, following his dream of playing competitive golf and studying at a prestigious university.
One of the main reasons I am here today, living my dream, is because my disorder was detected early.
My family had the opportunity to immediately begin implementing resources to help me better succeed down the road.
In order to share my experience and give back, I launched a charity called Alexis for Autism. Its purpose is to raise funds for associations, foundations and medical research to support the fight against Autism.
My goal is to help children and families dealing with autism. Through golf events, I am hoping to raise money and bring awareness to this syndrome that’s affecting so many families.
In 2018, I hosted my first event at my home course — the Geneva Golf Club —and we raised over $355,000 for genetic research.
Golf is always looked at as such an individual sport.
In this event, however, I was able to witness people from all walks of life come together for one common goal — to raise awareness.
I started Alexis for Autism in order to assist others with the help of a sport that has given me so much. No matter what I decide to do in the future, golf and my charity will remain two constants in my life.
They will continue to motivate and inspire me, no matter what.