In our fifth and final episode of season 1 of our podcast, Matt Medina talks with Riah Person, an autism advocate that focuses on topics including sensory processing, stimming, and the black autistic experience. She also runs the website riahsweirdjourney.com, where she shares her life experiences and knowledge she has gained along the way. One of her presentations explores play, stimming, and sensory processing in relation to autistics and divergent human experiences.

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Topics of discussion:

0:00:18 Intro
0:01:23 Blackness and autism
0:02:47 Racism
0:04:28 Cycle of racism
0:05:26 George Floyd
0:07:01 Peaceful protest
0:08:04 Non-violent methods
0:09:33 Jon Stewart
0:10:48 Kenneth Clarke
0:11:50 No action
0:13:24 Blackness & diagnosis
0:15:11 School difficulties
0:16:17 Masking
0:17:09 ADHD
0:17:58 Military brat
0:18:49 Living in Guam
0:19:49 Not my fault
0:21:06 1st grade fight
0:24:01 School issues
0:26:27 Misread
0:28:43 YMCA abuse
0:31:20 Being a parent
0:32:55 Threatening appearance
0:34:54 Enter advocacy
0:38:19 Here together
0:41:47 Space for being
0:45:00 Stim-dancing
0:46:41 Mind–body connection
0:47:42 Ballroom dance
0:51:07 Western-ayurvedic
0:52:39 What is dance
0:56:15 Special interests
0:59:11 Neurodivergent friends
1:03:20 Diagnostic support
1:04:43 Stims
1:07:54 Squeaking teeth
1:10:27 Jamaica thanksgiving
1:13:40 Riah’s contact information

In our fourth episode, we talk with Christine Condo, who runs the blog This Great Ape, and writes for NeuroClastic. She is a late-diagnosed autistic woman living with chronic pain, and writes her blog as a way to process her experiences.

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Topics of discussion:

0:24 Christine’s diagnosis
1:45 Matt’s diagnosis
2:45 Christine’s early career
4:21 Autistic characteristics and school
5:34 Christine and school
6:31 Work experiences and limitation
7:45 Difficulties in school
9:17 Christine can’t remember faces
10:07 Spiky skills profile
12:33 Alexithymia & visual skills
13:36 Autism obscured
15:47 Pathologizing conditions
16:34 Labels
17:19 High & low-functioning autism
18:57 Savant myth & stereotypes
20:42 Masking
22:03 Autistic burnout
24:03 Socially ostracized
25:55 Great Ape blog excerpt
27:44 Empathy
28:40 Alexithymia & empathy
29:35 Depression, anxiety, PTSD
30:14 Trusting people
32:46 Support from neurodiverse friends
33:09 Trust & manipulation
36:02 Honesty & masking
36:54 Introversion & extraversion
38:16 Neurodiversity movement
39:18 Women on the spectrum
42:30 American Disabilities Act
44:30 Autism & employment
47:10 Double empathy problem
49:44 Parents of autistic children
51:03 Autistics need social connection
52:10 Autistic extravert
53:15 Masking
53:37 Autism paradox
54:38 Accommodations
55:38 High & low-functioning dichotomy
56:58 Sensory sensitivity
58:34 Definitions of intelligence
1:00:06 Labels
1:01:02 Autism experts
1:03:57 Disability model: deficits
1:04:54 Communication and empathy
1:09:29 Direct communication on the job
1:11:38 Dispel stereotypes about autism
1:12:32 Great Ape Blog’s name origins
1:14:47 The autism experience
1:16:51 Where to find Christine
1:18:36 Christine’s Washington Post article

In our third episode, we talk with Aaron Orsini, co-founder of the Autistic Psychedelic Community, collaborator with neuroscientists, and author of the book Autism on Acid, about how LSD helped him understand, navigate, alter, and appreciate his autistic perceptions.

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In our second episode, we talk with Arik Marmostein; he is a serial entrepreneur who’s founded Mimoona, RefreshBox, and most recently Spectroomz, a remote freelance blog for autistic talent. Arik lives in Israel with his wife and his autistic son.

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Topics of discussion:

0:38 Greetings and quarantine
1:11 Arik as a serial entrepreneur
3:00 How Arik manages all of his projects
4:43 Ro’im Rachok: Autistics in the Israeli Defense Force
6:40 Major corporations specifically hiring autistics
8:15 Corporations resist neurodiversity
10:14 Autistic work preferences
11:16 Matt’s bad work experience
11:46 Martin’s work preferences
12:00 Arik loved studying law but not practicing it
14:35 Arik’s aspie traits and broad autism phenotype
15:15 Rare mutation turns Arik’s son into an autistic X-Men
16:23 Arik’s son suffers a seizure
17:45 Arik embraces his son’s autism
18:35 Autistics speak on the torture of ABA therapy
19:35 Eye contact can be tough
20:45 Arik’s son’s diagnosis
21:22 Verbal, high IQ autistic kids dig older folks but struggle with other kids
23:10 The issue of a lack of knowledge on autism
24:50 Autism had awful public relations
26:22 Matt’s 25-year-long journey to receive an autism diagnosis
28:23 River otters spotted!
29:18 Autism research focused on children (particularly boys) at the expense of adults
30:00 Gatekeeping achievements
31:40 “If he didn’t have that mutation, he’d be a genius”
32:50 Googling for hope: Autistic geniuses
34:00 Autistics withheld from showing off their talents
34:46 Remote work to help autistics and NTs
35:17 Autistics are more than code monkeys
38:23 The variety of behaviors on the spectrum
39:53 Autistics prefer detailed instructions and minimal social interactions
41:20 The sociological issues of the treatments of autistics
42:55 MDMA reduces anxiety in autistic study participants
46:22 Supposed empathy deficits in autism really caused by co-occurring alexithymia
47:25 Coming out as autistic at work
48:22 Everyday discrimination
50:02 The Moses of neurotypes: How Arik bridges the autistic–NT divide
54:00 Neurodiversity isn’t a priority at most organizations
56:00 Fluorescent lighting sucks
56:26 Accommodations at work
57:36 Bigger organizations lack flexibility
58:45 The mission of Spectroomz
1:00:17 What Arik’s learned from working with autistic people
1:02:08 Nevo’s (Arik’s son) special interests
1:05:38 Arik doesn’t dig the Foo Fighters
1:06:46 Arik and Nevo’s Infinite Playlist
1:08:18 Two very important questions
1:08:51 The best hummus in Israel
1:09:53 The great US hummus hoax
1:10:39 More on Sonya Bot
1:12:00 How Arik created Sonya Bot
1:13:18 Sonya Bot is universal
1:14:28 Sign up for Spectroomz!
1:15:10 Arik’s social media

We talk with Rees Finlay, author, public speaker, and illustrator based in the UK, who has done official artworks for Star Wars, Stranger Things, and AMC’s The Walking Dead, among other things.

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Topics of discussion:

00:56 Rees’ diagnosis and the difficulty of receiving post-diagnosis support
04:32 Rees’ moral quandary at work
05:18 Interests in comics and first professional comics gigs
08:21 Why Rees wrote his novel
12:55 Neurodiversity and conceptions of autism
15:50 The banality of evil of everyday life
17:00 Avoiding dogma and political tribalism in the neurodiversity movement
21:00 Dating while autistic
24:00 Autism research, empathy, alexithymia, and common perceptions of autism
28:20 Neurodiversity wars: Tribalism within the autism community, and tolerating neurotypicals
34:50 Rees’ coming out
35:20 Autistic experiences and self-actualization
41:40 Autistic super powers and kryptonites
44:20 Coronavirus and postponed live show
49:21 Autism dark web
50:35 Belittling of autistic people
52:33 Hedwig the Owl in real life
55:50 Punching up: When jokes about NTs go too far
56:44 NHS autism services: Inadequate but necessary
01:02:26 FDA finally bans the use of electric shock devices administered to autistics
01:04:10 Autistic accountability and media presentations of autism
01:08:10 The vicious cycle of oppression and trauma
01:11:00 Jerks as friends: Rees’ experience with social manipulation
01:15:38 Integrating a future of great possibility after serious suicidal ideation
01:16:21 Rees’ revelations as an artist and autism advocate
01:17:25 The delicate balance between pleasing people and making real change
01:18:00 Twitter wars and the burden of celebrity
01:20:55 Punished for altruism: Hiding selfless acts
01:23:30 Learning from mistakes: What Rees has learned from failure
01:24:33 Rees’ social media

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