Girl with autism crowned Homecoming Princess after bullying backfires

POWAY, Calif. (NBC) - A Southern California girl hopes bullies will take note when she is crowned homecoming princess.

Rachel Sampson suffers from a form of autism and some students nominated her as a cruel prank.

Once the other students got wind of what was going on they rallied and voted her into the homecoming court.

It surprised her. It was also a surprise for Rachel's mom, Kathleen Sampson, who immediately became suspicious.

Rachel has a form of autism called Aspergers Syndrome.

"Rachel has a lot of friends, but she doesn't socialize outside of school, that's a little too difficult for her right now," Kathleen said.
"They sometimes have difficulty being social. They don't make eye contact. They don't always have a lot of friends."

Kathleen said bullies put Rachel's name on the homecoming ballot as a joke.

But Rachel wasn't discouraged. "I decided that if it was a mean joke, it would drive those kids really nuts if I actually won and had a lot of fun with it."

Rachel's mom got on Facebook and spread the word about what happened. It went viral.

"The community of Poway and the students at Poway High School do not tolerate bullying, and they made that very clear with their voting," Kathleen said.

And if Rachel thought she had a lot of friends before, she's certainly got a lot more now.

"I'm just hoping that other kids who have been bullied are going to get a message from this and other kids who are bullies realize what they're doing is wrong," Rachel said.