SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — At 60 years old, Clementine Bentley is training for her first bodybuilding competition.

“When people typically my age are getting ready to wind down for retirement, I’m kind of going in the opposite direction,” Bentley laughed.

Bentley is on the autism spectrum, something she discovered in her 20s after a misdiagnosis left her institutionalized and eventually homeless.

“Back then I didn’t know what I was doing was echolalia or parodying, and before I knew it they said I had delusions of grandeur and I was committed,” Bentley explained. “I was diagnosed with bipolar and put on lithium for about 15 years.”

Throughout the years, Bentley said having the right people at the right time in her life helped her find her voice and receive the proper diagnosis. Other accountability partners include the service dogs she trains. Her dog, Abel, helps her navigate life.

“Humans and animals have such wonderful, amazing similar talents,” Bentley said.

While being on the autism spectrum has created hurdles, it’s taught her to be resilient in accomplishing goals.

“My philosophy is if I’m going to grow as a human being, I really need to see what the world is like out there,” Bentley said.  

She earned her esthetician license and started a small business, Bentley Skincare and Wellness, with her husband, Anthony.

“It’s just amazing to me that someone with a disability is more functional then most of the people that I know,” Anthony Bentley said.

Along with bodybuilding, Clementine Bentley also paints murals in Springfield and is learning to play the cello. She recently earned her Master’s Degree in Integrative Education from Drury University. Her final thesis focused on the effects of online learning on children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. She’s now using her life experiences to teach people on the autism spectrum how to blossom.

“I’m a perennial,” she explained, “I’m constantly blooming, and that’s what I want to see happen to this young man.”

She said her thesis at Drury University is important because it led her to pursue her original research project, changed due to Covid restrictions, which is the subject for a short documentary film involving a 15-year-old boy on the autism spectrum. Bentley coordinated a team of five entrepreneurs and Indie film director E.B. Hughes to work with the boy on how to reach goals and blossom into the best version of himself. She’ll be using her life experiences to make an impact.

“I want to give a chance to a young adult, or really anybody, if you want to live a beautiful life, here’s how I did it,” Bentley said. “Because I do. I wake up every morning grateful.”

Production is still in its beginning phase.

The Remarkable Women of the Ozarks winner will be announced on April 1.