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The contrasts at the intersection of being an Autistic ADHDer

– Chat with Stephanie Robertson

Exploring Neurodiversity Podcast – Episode 35

by Adina Levy

Play. Learn. Chat - Exploring Neurodiversity Podcast Logo

In this episode, I had the absolute pleasure of sitting down for a wonderful chat with Stephanie Robertson, who is a great friend colleague and really wise autistic ADHD. She’s an occupational therapist and has many other identities as well. This chat that we’re going to have is about the intersection between being an autistic ADHD and how it’s sometimes work for us or works against us.Β 

Keep learning with me!

Speech Therapists! Affirming Communication for Autistic Children course opening very soon, join the waitlist early June if you’re listening when this comes out live for the best deals! Doors open 2x a year only so check it out here ➝ playlearnchat.com/speechie-course

 

Podcast Link:Β https://pod.link/1625478932

Website:Β www.playlearnchat.com

Instagram:Β https://www.instagram.com/play.learn.chat

Facebook:Β https://www.facebook.com/play.learn.chat

Connect with Steph – SGR Occupational Therapy:
www.sgroccupationaltherapy.com

Instagram: @sgroccupationaltherapy
Facebook: SGR Holistic and Family Focused Occupational Therapy – https://www.facebook.com/SGROccupationalTherapy
Facebook group: The Neurodiversity Empowerment Movement – https://www.facebook.com/groups/1258437025035170
YouTube: The Spiritual OT – https://www.youtube.com/@TheSpiritualOT

Transcript:

Welcome to the Exploring Neurodiversity Podcast for adults who support Neurodivergent children. Whether you’re an allied health professional, medical professional, education professional or a parent of a Neurodivergent child, you are welcome here.

This podcast is recorded on the Aboriginal lands of the Gadigal and Bidjigal people. I acknowledge the traditional owners elders past and present, and I extend my acknowledgement to any Aboriginal first nations people listening in.

I’m Adina from Play. Learn. Chat. I’m an autistic ADHDer, a speech therapist, professional educator speaker, and I also support Neurodivergent Business owners in my other business, neurodivergent Business Coaching and Consulting.

I’m obsessed with creating a world when Neurodivergent people are understood, embraced, supported, and celebrated. A world where we Neurodivergent people can understand ourselves and thrive in a life aligned with our individual strengths, wants and needs.

On the Exploring Neurodiversity Podcast, you’ll get my perspectives and conversations with my Neurodivergent friends. All about how adults can best support Neurodivergent children in our lives.

I bring a Neurodiversity Affirming approach and indeed a human affirming approach to the support that we all provide for Neurodivergent kids in our lives.

Let’s dive in.

A couple of weeks ago, I had the absolute pleasure of sitting down for a wonderful chat with Stephanie Robertson, who is a great friend colleague and really wise autistic ADHD. And she has many other identities as well. She’s an occupational therapist.

And she has her own podcast. Called alphabet soup, exploring complex narrative at city. And she, and I decided that we’re going to have this chat. About. The intersection between being an autistic ADHD and how it’s sometimes work for us or works against us. And it’s pretty complex.

this episode is longer than my usual ones. And I’d love to hear how you find this kind of free flowing conversation. It’s not actually entirely free flowing. We did have a bit of an agenda to keep us to some kind of plan. we talk about our personal experiences being autistic ADHD is and how that impacts us in the areas of sensory regulation, clothing, emotional regulation. masking and how we show up in society, parenting, we talk about podcasts. We talk about our work life. And we just started to touch on relationships and then we realized that could be a whole other episode for another day.

So I have a feeling we will come back for another. Deep dive free, full, big chat in the future. Talking specifically about our experiences with relationships.

So, if you listen to both of our podcasts, you will find this episode is airing. On both of ours this week. We would both absolutely love to hear from you what you find, any takeaways, things like that.

And just before we dive in, I wanted to give a quick heads up. I know a lot of you listening are speech therapists.

And if that is you, my course Affirming Communication for Autistic Children is going to be opening to the wait list this week as it comes out live. So if you are on my wait list, look out on the 14th of June 20, 24 for a special deal Sitting in your inbox and if you are not yet on my wait list,

Hop on over to. playlearnchat.com/speechie-course. don’t remember that. Just click the link in the show notes.

Those are the only opening twice a year. So if you are interested in upskilling and getting much more confident, clear getting loads of tools and. A deeper understanding about what exactly Near a diversity of framing support looks like for autistic children. And you’re a speech therapist. Go and check out the link and hop on the wait list.

If it’s not open right now, I will update you when we, our next open.

All right. Let’s head into deep dive land with Steph and myself.

β€ŠHello, Steph. Hello, Dina. How are you? I’m really well. How are you? I’m good. I’m stoked. I’m stoked for our chat and I’m stoked that we all turned up in bright colors. Anyone listening and not watching, I feel like we should do an image description before we even bother introducing ourselves. Yeah, I actually think definitely.

They look at our backgrounds and everything. So I have a floral background. It used to be my wall with like these beautiful watercolor flower decals behind me, but now there’s actually a nappy change table behind me. And I just fake it with a photo of the wall as my fake is in background. I have a very bright jumper on, which has all the colors and shapes and dots and stripes, and it’s making me very happy.

And my mug has multi color flowers just to be a little bit extra. How about you Steph? I have my usual background that I use for work, but I created it so that it would be my little happy place with my sunshine in the background and my bright blue and stuff. And then I chucked on a dress today that I got from Proud Poppy Clothing, and it’s just floral and bright and bold.

And it just, every time I wear it, I just, okay, obviously it’s a dress with pockets, so there’s that. But the colors are also Very stash. I mean, you can’t be sad in something like that. Can you? I don’t know. Maybe, but I hope not. It’s beautiful. So we did good. We did good. We are going to talk about dopamine dressing and many other things in our episode today, but this is a cross episode.

It’s going to appear on both of our podcasts. Steph’s is exploring complex neurodiversity also called alphabet soup. In fact, I think I went subtitle first, didn’t I? Yeah. Alphabet soup, exploring complex neurodiversity. And I’m exploring neurodiversity, maybe exploring simple neurodiversity. I literally only realized today how Like you’re the name of your podcast, which I’ve listened to and stuff, but it never clicked.

Like it was similar to mine. Like I never even put that together until today. Maybe you subconscious it, but that’s totally cool because it just shows in so many ways, how aligned we are and why we need to keep chatting and sharing our brain thoughts with the world. So yeah, you will hear this on both of our podcasts.

Steph, for those who don’t know you, would you like to introduce yourself to my audience? Yeah, so I’m Steph. I am an occupational therapist and multiply neurodivergent. I specialize now in supporting neurodivergent people parents supporting young children and that kind of thing. And this has sort of become very much my, I guess niche area as well as my, like, life passion.

I mean, isn’t it the most autistic thing to have your special interest be neurodiversity or like, it’s so good. But yeah, and then I started my podcast because I just wanted to share lived experience for myself and for people and I’m such a true believer that storytelling. is healing and it allows us to connect and relate.

So that’s kind of a bit of the background of my yarns. But can I invite you to do the same? So for my listeners who don’t know you, Adina, can you tell us about you? Yes. Thank you. I am Adina Levy. I have two businesses, which is the most ADHD thing. I mean, the fact that it’s only two is pretty impressive maybe.

So I have play learn chat, which is essentially professional development for professionals who support neurodivergent kids, which is really anyone who has any job that has anything to do with kids. But in the process, I kind of incidentally have found that I’m supporting a lot of neurodivergent folks directly and indirectly, whether it’s parents, neurodivergent, allied health professionals, and so on.

And all of that kind of morphed into My newer business neurodivergent business coaching and consulting where I basically help neurodivergent business owners to figure out how to have a business. That’s not going to cause them a deep pit of despair and stress and maybe even joy. Like we want more of that.

So yeah, it’s where I have taken my professional trajectory. So it kind of makes sense to me. I actually think I’m doing neurodiversity affirming practice across both businesses. I see it as really powerful. A lot of, so I absolutely. Agree. And as someone who is, you know, part of, of your neurodivergent business collective and, and work with you for myself under that model of supporting me in business absolutely.

I think it’s definitely parallel because we often see us supporting like children in schools or things like that, but there’s not a whole lot of neurodivergent affirming practice happening in workplaces. And it would be great if you and I could one day be standing up there with, you know, the creators of.

iPhone or something and being like, this is how you need to support your employees. But for now, like we’ve got to start where the people have the control. And if they’re a business owner and they can create change to thrive, like, Oh yes. Love it. It’s happening. It’s so fun. I’m having way too much fun actually in both businesses.

And that’s kind of the point. Cause I didn’t, and we are so going to go into all of these topics today because we have been noodling about thinking about if we want to go simple, just thinking about the fact that both of us are autistic ADHD is Plus, plus, plus, plus whatever other stuff will become important as well and is important, but specifically thinking about this oldie HD autistic ADHD combo and how it shows up in all these areas of our lives that are where the two parts of ourselves can feel Quite conflicted at some times, which can be really hard to manage and figure out.

And at other times the two parts of ourselves might even be quite complimentary and helping us through other stuff. We’re going to pretty much ramble. Yeah. I think it’s an interesting one, isn’t it? Because the, the co occurring frequency of a person being ADHD and autistic. Is so high. I believe they, I think they believe that it’s up to about 80 percent or something.

Those are the numbers I’m hearing like 50 to 80%. And before I think about it, I feel like it’s a lot towards the higher end with a lot of people less identified. Yes, exactly. And I think it’s also because on, on, I want to say on paper, but what I mean is traditionally people would think that Autistic presentation, ADHD presentation are just so opposite or different that they couldn’t possibly occur together.

And I think part of what we’re all realizing now, working in this space, living in this space, is that it’s not as simple as that. Like, it’s not really as simple as just being like, this is what it’s going to look like if you’re an autistic person versus, you know, And I think for both of us, we experienced a lot of these things quite in the internalized presentation version.

So we have a different internal experience to what the rest of the world shows on the outside. I think I forgot to say I’m a speech therapist, didn’t I? I got distracted by all the other stuff we’re talking about. That is my, you know, my training, my background and what you were saying earlier, Steph, about how autistic it is to make your special interest, AKA your spin as your like career and all the stuff you talk about.

I think a lot about all the neurodivergent speech therapists, occupational therapists, psychologists that I know of. And I feel like there is such a deep, Almost obvious reason why we’ve landed in these professions generally as unidentified neurodivergent folk only to later figure out who we are. Yes.

Because we have this deep interest in understanding humans, bodies, brains, communication, and you know, whichever angle was more interesting is why we landed that way probably. And that’s, that’s why we studied it with such depth, I think, and why we’re really good at what we do. I hope. Yeah, I totally, I totally agree.

Yeah. Should we start with talking about sensory regulation? Yeah. And how we’re doing it now, or like, what we’re doing now that is It’s very autistic or very ADHD of us. Yeah. Yeah. I feel like for me with like sensory reg stuff, it changes and this is why, you know, you were saying earlier to me that it’s like, you know, all the ADHD part of my brain or the autistic part of my brain.

And like, sometimes they’re really different. I definitely resonate with that because sometimes it’s like, I’m feeling fueled by a lot more kind of sensory movement seeking or. Anything like that, which I would definitely put more down to kind of like my ADHD brain. But then if I actually sink deeper into that, I think a lot of the time my ADHD brain seeks.

Movement because what it actually wants is more input from what it is that I’m doing. Whereas the autistic lens of seeking the movement is actually more sensory. Like it’s like one’s coming from the body. One’s coming from the brain. Oh, like more interest versus physical input. Ooh, interesting. Yeah. So for me, I feel like if we use movement seeking, for example, which I do, I, I don’t sit still.

I don’t even bother trying anymore. But. I think when I am trying to sit and do, say, a focus task and I feel myself slip in that ADHD way of, Oh, that’s gone now. Damn. Like, you know, I don’t know if you get that where you feel it slip away. And it’s like that inattentiveness is like, okay, I’ve lost it.

Then my body will be like wanting to move because it doesn’t like the feeling of not being attached to that. Whether it’s something that I was really, really focused on or whatever. Whereas other times, and it comes from my brain down to my body, whereas other times, if it’s coming from an autistic place, my body starts moving without me even being aware.

And then it’s like, it goes the other way. What a cool way of conceiving of these. I’ve literally not ever thought about it as much as I have now with you. So I’ve never even said this before, but something to develop. It feels kind of right. I’ll have to think about it more for myself. And if that resonates on my experience as well.

Yeah. Wow. That’s super interesting. I hate I’m just thinking now, like I’m just zooming in on my like right now experience and what I’ve done, you know, to set up my little space and to get in space mentally to like, you know, hang out with you and do this chat and what I could attribute to sort of autistic traits and ADHD traits.

One thing that we both ADHD the heck out of was we just turned up and only had our vague topic and we were like, great, how are we doing this? We whipped up a Google doc with some kind of head kind of topic headlines. And I don’t know about you, Steph, but I’m looking at that as a visual to pace through both from the autistic brain to kind of keep feeling like, okay, I can see this, I’m going to be highlighting bits as we go through.

I can, like a visual, like a visual kind of schedule. ADHD brain is like, This is kind of to keep us on track. Like we know our neurodivergent way of discussing stuff. We’re going to go in all directions, but to try and give us some focus, that will help as well, that’s not even a sensory regulation. I’ve got this little rainbow in my hands, which I actually made.

It’s like a female rainbow. I’m holding it up. If you watching the video My daughter and I made it, I pretty much made it, but then she re gifted it to me for Mother’s Day, which is really cute. I love that. Yeah. And it’s very smooth. It’s also shiny, but I’m not looking at the shiny right now. I just kind of know it’s shiny.

It’s very smooth. It makes my hands happy. It’s really kind of autistic way of me sensory seeking and grounding myself. I actually have an array of little mini fidgets under my screen. Both, they make my eyes happy and they make my hands happy. And. I, 100 percent of the time when I’m Zooming with someone or presenting, I am, there’s something in my hands.

Yeah. A hundred percent. Yeah. I just know that and I, I’ve built that for myself. What am I doing sensory wise? Yeah, that’s kind of it. I’ve got my tea. I’ve probably got many things. I don’t even know. I’ve got my tea, which I, I picked my favorite tea to tea, which I more often use when I’m like on with someone, as opposed to like, I’d try to program myself with different teas for different kinds of types of work.

That’s clever. Yeah. This is my on tea Melbourne breakfast, if anyone’s wondering. Love it. What do you, yeah, what else could you kind of peg down to what’s going on for you right now? Yeah, so I’m a bit of a life midgetter as well. I don’t have, of course I don’t, because I took it in the car with me when I was, Way on the weekend.

So don’t have with me what is my favorite one, which is this weird monster, squishy thing I got from Kmart. It’s like full of sand, you know the sand squishies? Yep. I love it because I can like pluck it. I can squish it. I can splat it like it’s so multifunctional on like the fidget front. Right now I’ve got my little be, you know, we’ve got the same ones, the little magnetic balls.

Oh, hello there. . Yeah. I love these ’cause they’re quiet too. Like they’re a little bit crunchy, but like. Quiet so I can get away with it. And I’m the same. I really like the feeling. Even like subconsciously, if I’m focusing on something else, if my fingers and my hands are busy, it’s grounding, really grounding for me as well.

So that’s a big one. I have loads of plants around me actually. So I love nature. I find it so grounding. So I was like, why not bring the nature inside? So my office is just filled. There’s like 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11. There’s 11 plants in this little space. So it’s like my little rainforest. That is funny.

And that’s a visual thing. Like, I see them and I don’t know, there’s something grounding about it. But also I think for me, and I’m actually exploring the visual side of my sensory regulation a lot more recently because I think I was just ignoring it as like even a thing, but then I started noticing like what we mentioned before and how I’m dressing and how it makes me feel when I see the colors.

I recently got this little dude, I think I sent you a video of it, but it’s my dragon that’s just in this, like, what do you call that color? It’s like rainbow. Metallic. Yeah. Sleek, almost looking. Yes. And it’s this articulating fidget thing. It’s really hard to explain. If you see on the video, you can see my like funny little.

It’s incredible. Please put it on Instagram if you didn’t actually, if you only sent it to me. Yeah, okay, I’m definitely going to share my little dragon on I want it to be squishy. It’s hard though, isn’t it? It is hard, and do you know what? That’s why I don’t like touching it. Ah! So I don’t actually like touching it.

It makes a noise, if you can hear that. And so I just place her there, and I just look at her, and then the sun touches her, like, through the window, and then it like, sparkles, and I’m like, BLEH So she’s one for looking at, not fiddling with. Exactly. She’s my little visual dopamine seeker. But what I think is interesting is it’s definitely the autistic side of me that doesn’t like to touch it.

I think the ADHD side of me would happily swing it around above my head and make as much noise as possible and like, love that, right? And be like, woo! But then the autistic side’s like, no, it’s crunchy sounding and it’s hard and I don’t like it. And that’s kind of a. Not high stakes situation where the two sides of you are kind of doing battle.

It’s like they would have different preferences, but you have to land somewhere in between. Yeah. Something’s compromising. And in this case, it’s the ADHD that doesn’t really get to fling it around so much. And that’s the compromise, but it’s not such a big deal. I think it’s just a little part of your life, but I think it’s a.

Kind of a preview of some of the contrasts we might experience in other parts of our life. I actually moved clothing up higher on our list because I think it fits beautifully in with sensory regulation. And I was thinking about for me, I have this series of jumpers. I have a lot of jumpers. My husband asked me the other day, how many, and I think 30, it’s like, it’s just a thing, a category of thing I love.

And I, it’s one of the items of clothing I have most of. Why? I don’t know. He has one, but anyway, I said he can borrow mine. He hasn’t yet. It’s really soft and this is actually a new one though. It hasn’t even gone through the wash and there’s a contrast. I want to feel the softness of the inside when it’s like fresh fleece.

Never wash. But then it’s got that slight smell from the like dye on it. So then I’m like, I don’t like the smell, but it’s still worth it for the, the softness. So there’s always a payoff there. I am working from home, which I do most of the time. I’m in my comfiest, prettiest leggings. Guess what’s on my legging, Steph?

What? Flowers. Oh my God. Let me lift my leg up. Yes! Girl, you are the floral queen! Flowers on my leggings. I have my softest, warmest, snuggie socks on. I put so much effort into figuring out my wardrobe. Like 90 percent of the time I’m like solo. I don’t have to like go into an office or appear in front of anyone in, you know, certainly not from the shoulders up.

I go comfort. Autistic me is like comfort, comfort, comfort, you know, like a waistband that feels comfortable on me. And you know, obviously, obviously it goes without saying no weird tags and seams, obviously. And ADHD me is like, give me all the print, make it pretty, make it bright. And that is my wardrobe.

How does, how do you exist in your clothing? I am going to share something really funny with you guys. I was sitting here and it came into my head and I wanted to laugh out loud about it. And then I was like, do you share that publicly? And I was like, yeah, cause it’s just too funny not to. So as some of you who follow me on my Instagram, you’ll know that I recently went through this thing to get a brace and treatment for scoliosis.

I’ve got a really bendy spine. Anyway, so this experience has been something where there’s been the ADHD also versus the the autistic side with wearing this brace. So I worked out, and this was the best kind of coming together of these two parts. Just like for the past couple of days since I got it.

So once I’ve got it on, I can’t bend my torso at all. So I can’t pull my pants down to go to the toilet very easily. So I worked out if I don’t wear any undies. And I wear my trackies like a Harry Hyde pants over the top of the brace, then I can just pull them down and I can go to the toilet in, in this thing.

So then what I’ve done is, because that seems like, oh, I don’t know, like the autistic side of me is like, this is great. This is easy. We have access. It’s fine. But the ADHD side of me is like, Oh, that’s a little bit like, I don’t know if that’s quite right and put together. So it’s like, Oh, well the top half, we’ll just chuck on something really bright and floral and colorful.

And it’s like, I’ve split my body in half. The ADHD is at the top and the autism is at the bottom. It just makes sense. I see that. And you’re working with. Your limitations and like the constraints that you have, it’s all incredibly sensible while you’re dealing with this whole new kind of self concept.

Just like you have this brace, it’s visible, it’s changing how you move. And it just makes sense. And, and even the brace itself, do you want to talk about the, how beautiful you made it? Haha. Yeah, so it’s, I don’t have it on right now, otherwise I would just show you guys. But. It’s pictures all over my Instagram.

It’s, I got one that is printed with like fluoro, multi colored musical notes and stuff like that all over it. So I definitely joyfully addressing when I’m in the brace and it is, it’s really pretty. It looks better in person than it did like, You know but also there is an element of like sensory hell from the autistic perspective about this brace.

It’s tight and it rubs and it pushes. And for me, I don’t know if you relate to this, Adina, but anything even near my armpits makes me feel physically unwell. Like tight clothes that go like, dig, like up in the armpit, I can’t deal. And this brace, obviously to elongate my spine is pushing up under my armpits to like, hold me up.

Are you finding that you’re putting in place more sensory self care maybe before, during and after it to help you through those experiences? Yeah. A hundred percent. And I’m also, so for me, and I found this in my work and for me personally, if we look at sensory modulation. I’ve found that if I have to, heaven forbid, endure an uncomfortable sensory experience, the best way for me personally to cope with it is to give myself more input of something that I do like.

And the hope is that my brain will attach its attention. Do the thing it does like, and then not. So for example, I’ve been doing like while I’m wearing it and I’ve got it under my arms or whatever. I’ve been definitely fiddling more. And for me I think I like speaking so much because I actually like like oral motor input and vocal stimming.

So when I’m actually talking and thinking or chewing gum even or other things like that, I can get myself through giving myself like different different feedback. That’s great. And I would guess you probably do it quite consciously. As a OT and someone who thinks a lot about your own sensory needs, I hope that anyone listening who’s kind of doing something that they have no choice over, that’s really uncomfortable.

Whether it’s like, you have to go to a workplace and there’s an uncomfortable sensory environment or you have, you know, for medical reasons, you have to wear a certain brace or something at all, you have less control over, I guess it’s about dialing up what you can control to feel okay and potentially even nice, as nice as possible, or even just okay sometimes.

Well, cause that’s the thing, like, I, we know that neurodivergent brains complex and complicated and it isn’t a one size fits all, but obviously in order to try to help people, we have to have like certain diagnostic criteria and like fit into this box or that box or whatever. For me, when I think about my own experiences, I feel like it’s this massive juxtaposition between my brain being so super complex.

But then is it also just like super simple and I can hack it? Do you ever have that thought? And that’s like what I mean with this, if something’s uncomfortable, and then it’s so easy because of the way our brains think. Modulate information, like we delete it, distort it, we do all sorts with the information we take in.

If I can try to manipulate the way my own brain interprets information, can I make myself less uncomfortable? And this is literally the type of thinking that I do all the time. I think that’s why we’re very similar. Like it’s almost a hobby to figure out. Our own patterns and triggers and things like that, maybe it’s not so much for everyone, or maybe we’ve just gone along this journey pretty deeply into like the self learning.

Like I talk about this so much is that all of it follows after self knowledge. Once you have self knowledge and you can put in place what you need, you can seek it out, you can self advocate, but without the self knowledge of what’s going to help you or how you’re feeling without those little pieces.

You’re just kind of guessing with the supports. I think we’re pretty conscious about it. I hope that us talking aloud helps help somebody. Please do tell us. We hang out on Instagram a lot. Yeah. And I think, yeah, we’ll put our links in the, in the show notes and so on. Should we think about emotional regulation?

I just had A memory of something that I was thinking about sharing kind of noticing the impact of autistic me and ADHD me on emotions and how these sides of me show up and interact. I guess on a simple, simple level, I. Personally, I think this is kind of, kind of more a tribute to autistic me. I have very big feelings that can come up about things, things, especially, you know, like injustices, the world perceived injustices to me, I’ll say perceived cause I know that my perception of the world is not the only version of the world.

So I get these really big heightened emotions in reaction to whatever various things. And that’s autistic me. That is valid. My emotions are valid. I experience them as I do, and then A DHD me wants to impulsively respond and I know through lots of years of experience and practice and learning and observing my relationships and interactions, I know that my best outcomes overall are to not respond straight away.

Mm-Hmm. , but let the biggest feelings kind of. Ride out and sort of settle, settle down into some kind of more, I don’t know, more, I want to say rational, but not fully rational. Like we’re never fully rational, but somewhere towards more rationality. Before I respond. ADHD me finds that like painful to not.

just share what I’m thinking in the moment. If somebody tells me something and it slightly disappointed me, or I’ve read it in a certain way and it’s not what they intended, I didn’t even read it carefully. So I’ve totally misconstrued it. I have this huge emotion. I want to respond immediately with outrage and capital letters and whatever that is.

I almost have banned myself from doing that. Like it’s pretty much a blanket rule. This is like autistic meaning, the rule to follow. Do not respond immediately when there is a big feeling as I read something or hear something that somebody has like triggered in me. It’s a real, I don’t think the two sides of me help each other in that situation.

It feels really triggery and challenging. I totally relate to that though. Like I cannot even, and you know what, even you sharing that has helped me think about it that way, because I do the same thing in that. I don’t reply straight away and I make myself plan something or if I need to release that initial thing, I will write something down or draft something or whatever.

But then, so I still get it out. I still get the, the shouty caps and whatever needs to be expressed because I think our sense of injustice also is Like, it’s okay for us to have that, I think, because not only is it common for autistic people, but also we’ve often experienced a lot of it. And it’s okay if we see something, you know, walks like a duck, quacks like a duck.

And all of a sudden we’re like, that is an injustice duck. And it’s okay. Like, I think for us to like process that emotion that we get with that, but also as we have learned, as we’ve got older. You’ve got to pick your battles. And sometimes is that energy worth expanding in that instance with that person that’s going to get prolonged or in that environment, whatever.

So for me, I think I do a very similar thing to you, but I never thought about it that way. And I actually, I really love that reflection. And I think balancing it and acknowledging in the first place, being aware, balancing it. And then being like, where those two parts are kind of in conflict, how do we still.

Make both of them happy on the compromise. And maybe that is being able to like do a shouty voice note or like journal about it or write a response, but never post it or, you know. And I think a strategy that helps me is having safe people like you, for example, who I can rant to, let it out. And just have somebody go, I get it.

And then you go, that’s defused. I feel like you caught more of my ranting than I cop of yours, to be honest, to Dina at this point. Maybe I’m holding back. I’m going to rant at you further. I’ll, yeah, you gotta, you gotta release that. I’ll know what you mean. And I think that’s it, you know, finding a safe way of venting that doesn’t bring it back into that interaction.

Yes. Until. You are able to process it a little bit better and really figure out what are you really thinking? You and I were talking about our husbands before as these stable emotional folks who which is probably really helpful for us. I believe so for me. And I do a lot of sense checking with my husband about situations and I’m talking anything from like.

I think somebody cut me off at a roundabout. Here’s the scenario. Am I okay to feel super outraged? Should I have tooted? Should I have slimed into their car? What do you think? And most of the time he’ll like help me figure out for myself that maybe it was just a little bit of a misunderstanding. It wasn’t a full, I wasn’t fully cut off.

Like it was okay to let that go without tooting. Like I can breathe through that one. I want to expand on that just for a second further, because when you said that you have this like checking in, I do that all the time too. And I’d be really interested to know people listening to this. Do you do this if you’re a neurodivergent person in a way of.

almost seeking external validation that, that you’re okay to feel how you feel. And is that because in a lot of our lives, we’ve been invalidated in terms of our feelings or told, you know, you’re okay when you’re not okay. Or like told to suck it up and get on with it. Or that was easy. Wasn’t it? When Noah wasn’t really hard.

Yeah. And so I wonder if that’s something common, that checking in to be like, Am I okay to be outraged about this? And then when someone says, yeah, you are, then it’s like, okay, so now, now how do I be appropriately outraged? And for those listening, Steph just used like little air quotes, cause that word appropriately is a really loaded one.

You may think there’s almost nobody in the world, probably nobody, except for my husband, who I would actually go to. Seeking to be brought down from that emotionally heightened response, because you’re right. In many cases, if somebody tells me settle down, it’s not a big deal. I will go, but it is, and it was, and I felt it and I did, but actually what I’m looking for from him is like, I really trust his calibration of the world.

He moves through the world in a pretty calm, chilled way, like genuinely. And I honestly get envious of that sometimes. Yes. But at the same time, I know there’s something I can learn from that. And things like not holding it in deeply in my body. If I think someone’s cut me off at around about letting it go, not even barely paying attention to that, how much less cortisol could I experience in my life?

If I just do that, like I’m trying to learn it, I’m trying to learn a bit of that. So there’s, it’s like a double edged thing. I can both go, I feel it like this right now. And also there are other stories here. Yeah. And I completely. It is, it’s a weird experience though too, I think. I don’t know if you, you feel that, but like when you’re sitting in that space of like feeling the emotion that is so intensely coming from this, like, I could rip someone’s head right off.

And then there’s this almost other part of you that’s coming in and being like, all right, now this is how we’re going to organize our response and this is what we’re going to do. And then both parts are like trying to work together because you kind of know as a whole that you, you know, everyone is agreed that this is how we’re going to do things.

Hmm. And I think in the long run, it does help us because then we don’t get into situations where we might go, Oh, I wish I hadn’t responded like that, or, you know, whatever, but it doesn’t make it easy in the moment, because like you say, that feeling coming from whether it’s the sense of injustice and the feeling from the ADHD part of wanting to respond impulsively in a way that feels right, holding that back is uncomfortable, you know, like, Yeah.

Yeah. Really? It is. And, oh, and then there’s all the stuff is like, well, are you holding it back because you’re masking or are you holding it back because you’re self regulating? Are they sometimes the same thing? I feel like they are. Sometimes they could both be happening at the same time. You can both be regulating and masking.

Yeah. I, it’s something I think about a lot. I haven’t kind of noodled this out properly, but I, I think this is where also sometimes masking. And the ability to mask has a benefit. Yeah. I’ll give an example just from today. Obviously today’s ones are most obvious in my brain. I emailed a school. So my daughter is starting school next year and I emailed the school Cause Autistic Me, it’s only May, but I want to find out as much as I possibly can about their transition to school plans.

Like what kind of orientation visits do they have? When do they happen? I just wanted a bit of a timeline, whatever I can get from them. And they didn’t read my email, clearly they just gave me a form response that was like, if you are in area, please apply for school here. And I was like, my first response, scary in my head.

Oh my gosh, I can’t believe they didn’t read it. I even said some like pretty, like kind of. Not too much stuff because it’s just the first contact with the school, but I gave them a little bit of info and like, I couldn’t believe that they didn’t read it. I was so angry. Like what an injustice. And I just wanted to reply something really curt and short.

Yeah. But did I have enough? I don’t know capacity in me today to have had this little regulation moment going. Don’t reply now, put it aside, come back to it. And I came back to it and just reiterated my question. Like I’m going to say in inverted commas, like a normal person. I don’t know. I don’t know any of these normal people, but where do they live?

Who are they? Sorry. I think I look at, I look at that and I’m like, well, yes, I’m masked. I still feel a little bit, you know, hard done by that, you know, they didn’t bother to read my email, but then I can rationalize it and go, well, schools are super busy. It’s Monday morning. They actually got back to me very quickly, even if it was completely useless.

And I think this is where relationships, I mean, this is my whole field of work is like communication and interactions and relationships, and they are complex things. And the double empathy problem comes up big here, which is like. Everyone has different perspectives and we all have the right to be, to experience our experiences and to have our perspectives taken into account by the other people.

It’s, it’s a back and forth, a give and take. That’s how it is. Like that is life. So there will always be some compromise. We just have to pick, you said pick battles before. I think, yeah, pick which, which are the things that are so true to us that we have to keep holding onto and sharing in our truest sense.

Thanks. Which can be maybe you and I sharing our own rambles on our own podcast, for example, which are important where the relationship has to come first in a way, and we still have to look after other people’s feelings. And so we will present ourselves in a masked way to kind of keep that relationship smooth.

That’s right. What do you think about all this? Yeah, I agree. And I think that definitely is, you know, I’ve been thinking more and more about this. I actually did a. I posted a thing today, funnily enough, on masking on my Instagram, and it was about how it’s not just the responsibility of the individual to unmask.

Like we talk a lot about, you know, well, if masking is exhausting and masking leads to burnout, we’ll stop doing it then. Stop masking. But of course, if the masking is. a subconscious or an unconscious response, a survival response coming from the reptilian brain, it hasn’t been a choice. So the only way to allow for access to the part of the brain that can make a choice is for the nervous system to feel safe and for the environment to show that nervous system that it’s safe.

So is this concept of unmasking also a responsibility of our societies to create safe places for it? I guess. Right. So I think in adding to what you just said there, As society becomes more neurodivergent affirming and more accepting and allowing of perspectives, because I do believe in a neuro normative society, it is kind of a little bit like, this is like, you need to be in this road if we’re going to be neuro normative, in inverted commas again, right?

As we expand our view and be like, this is neuro diversity, this is more normalness, all of these options and all of these ways of responding. Will then our need to mask as a form of regulation become less needed because whatever expression we need to have wouldn’t have the negative implications because there’s more awareness.

I don’t know. Does that make sense? Absolutely. Oh, totally. And, and more like a broader range of acceptance of like, this is cool. This is fine. This is fine. Yes. And I think about it. There’s like broad society, this big amorphous society thing. Yeah. Yeah. It is. Let’s say like a school community or a preschool community.

So there’s kind of. You know, it’s kind of a community, it’s still pretty big and diverse. And then there’s like a little family community in your own, you know, the people who live under your roof, there’s a little community or a group of friends and or like a group of neurodivergent folks getting together for the yellow ladybugs conference in a couple of months.

A month. Oh my gosh. Like five weeks. There’s these little kind of pods of community and each community has these like norms and Some of it may not be easy to know or understand, but the more safe communities, it’s not really about size. It’s more safety. Like the more safe communities are the ones that are very tolerant, not just tolerant, but accepting of a broader range of, Difference.

Yeah, 100%. So how do we make a broader community more? And I honestly think that’s part of the lived experience sharing and telling, you know, like we’re doing right now, because. People, you know, if something’s not within your reality, your scope, your daily, is it hard to be even aware? And so of course, if, if someone is neurotypical, for example, and they’ve grown up with neurotypical family, which they probably did, if they actually are neurotypical, because you know, genetics and they’re in environments that are kind of neuro normative and that’s working for them and everyone.

And that’s what surprised. Yeah, if in their community, someone responding, you know, in one way would be just totally out of the ordinary, and then that does happen, it’s kind of okay that their reaction would be like, Oh my goodness, that’s weird. Or that’s not what I expected. And therefore I don’t know how to respond.

And now there’s an issue. Yeah. But the more we begin to, for these to overlap, because I think the neurodivergent community have always had to be aware of the neuro normative community and neurotypical, like we’ve always had to try to like be aware of that. Yeah. It is the double empathy problem, isn’t it?

And it’s, but I think on, on behalf of neurodivergent people talking openly about this and raising awareness and stuff like that, it’s also about us having some grace for people who aren’t intentionally like ignorant or anything, but they simply haven’t had the opportunity to experience another lens or another way of being by way of their own lived experience.

And I think sometimes. that’s what’s missing in this movement of neurodiversity is that We have to allow the time and space for those who aren’t aware yet to gain the knowledge, you know? That’s a really interesting and compassionate view. And it makes me think that the t shirt I designed that you have one of, Weird is Wonderful, is like, best, important.

I mean, that’s how I view weird, is in terms of like, just anything different, left or right, or up or down, diagonal from the norm is wonderful. To me, that’s beautiful. Like that’s probably a very autistic way of seeing the world is like, I reject normalcy. I reject average. I need to find something that’s different or beautiful or unique or interesting.

Actually there’s probably an ADHD lens to it too. Yeah. New. Yeah. Yeah. Hmm. We’re almost. Saving the world today. We’ve almost nailed it. I reckon Steph, we have so much more to figure out here though. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, honestly, I think the two of us, Adina, just put us in charge, problem solved. We probably need like a neurotypical person as well to just balance, balance out that.

Yeah. Yeah. Let them have a voice. I don’t know if, I don’t know if you’ve been watching the Google doc, but yes, I’ve been highlighting in rainbow order as we’ve been chatting through various topics. I was thinking, well, I want to throw it out to you. We had three topics here that we wanted to hopefully cover.

Parenting, work slash business, I’m sure. And then we put play interactions and connecting with people. Where, where’s your head at? I don’t know. You know me. I could talk the leg off a dining table, so I could probably talk about anything. I love that visual. Why don’t we do parenting? Yeah. Let’s do that.

Yesterday, as we record, was Mother’s Day. We are mothers. I think there’s some interesting things we can dig up about parenting you know, and bringing in our autistic and ADHD ness. Yeah. I think now the hardest thing I find about parenting, to be honest. So my daughter is 12. So you know, we have a fair amount of independence now, you know, looking at it that way.

But the thing that I find the hardest and always have done in terms of being a neurodivergent Is definitely more the autistic side of me and my need for isolated time. And so someone needing me outside of my ability to control when they need me. Yeah, young child. That was hard. And so what’s actually been a blessing.

And if I reflect, you know, over 12 years and do my own like internalized longitudinal study as Sammy’s gotten older and I am more independent and now I can simply say to her, because she’s also autistic and we talk very openly about our needs. I can say to her, I need to go home at now. And what I mean is I’m going to disappear.

Okay. And if you need me, come and get me, but unless the house is on fire, just leave me alone for a while, you know, and we accept that about each other, but then the ADHD side of me. Would be like, all right, pack our stuff this morning. We’re going to go for a huge bushwalk and we’re going to go and explore this new, amazing place and whatever.

And I will be that, and then it’ll get to 3 PM when we get home. And I’ll be like, okay, bye. I’m disappearing. And I would reflect on, am I then inconsistent with her? Like from an attachment perspective or like, is those, you know, different elements of me. Influencing her. And I guess I don’t know the answer to that.

It’s absolutely possible. But what has been my solution is being just really open that it’s about me and not about her. I’m not running away from you. I’m running away because I need to do this or whatever. You’re running too. Now we have a beautiful, you know, connection and she does the same to me.

She’ll go not now and walk off and go shut her door. But I don’t take that as her being Rude or disrespectful. I take that as knowing that what she means is I don’t have capacity to listen to you or follow your demand or whatever right now. And then she does, she comes back later and goes, sorry, what did you want?

And we agree, like we understand each other. That insight. And it takes probably a lot of experience and practice. In that relationship dynamic to go, this is what they need. It’s not a comment on me. They’re not, you know, it’s not against me. What an interesting insight. So my, I’m like a baby myself on my mom journey, as in my daughters are almost five and eight months.

Yay. I go, yay, because not newborn, yay. Just, oh, every age is, I think, more fun, more interesting, and still new challenges. Sure. I’m sure I haven’t even met a quarter of them. I think I definitely parent with much more consciousness this time with my new baby than I did with my older daughter, because I did not know my neurotype back then.

Yeah. Yeah. I didn’t know, I didn’t have self forgiveness, I didn’t have as much self awareness, I didn’t seek support for myself, I didn’t put things in place to support myself, I didn’t know much about my sensory profile, like none of that stuff was there that time, so one of the biggest Differences. I mean, they are very different children, very different babies.

In, I would say a really good way. We’ve had a much easier time this time around, which I’m very grateful for. But part of that certainly has been my understanding of what I needed myself. Sorry, just crashing my fidgets. What I needed for myself. Yeah, I’ve accessed that and sorted out a lot more this time.

I that’s powerful stuff. These are so powerful. And I spent pretty much the whole pregnancy with my psychologist pre briefing how to prepare for newborn. I had a lot of fears and worries and concerns how I was going to cope. And one of the most revealing conversations we had, it was so helpful. I live with my Apple Air, I live with them, I can’t even say it, Airpods, Airpods, Airpods.

AirPods. Oh my gosh. Yeah. AirPods. Yep. . My AirPods. Like if I am out and about and it’s just me, I will 100% have my AirPods in both of them on noise canceling. Mm-Hmm. . If I am out and about and I’m like pushing the pram and there is a baby in the pram, I will have one in. I’ll be listening to a podcast probably you, and then I will just, you know, still be listening to the baby and the world around me.

But also having this, like, this is the ADHD bit, but like mental stimulation, autistic me is like cancel as much outside noise as possible. But if I’m, you know, directly caring for baby, I will also listen with one ear to them. Yeah. So I was preparing for like, you know, future newborn life. And I said to my psychologist, I think it’s going to be really boring for me to be, you A newborn mom.

Like I remembered that being stressful and boring. I don’t know how those two things can happen at the same time, but they can. No, I totally relate. It’s like expecting a lot from you physically and not a lot mentally. That’s how I married it up when I was having the same experience. And that sense, totally ADHD point, which is like.

Oh, we’re here again, changing another nappy. Like I’ve done this, like we’ve done, haven’t we done this? Like, yeah. That’s just so repetitive and all that. And I remember saying very clearly to my psychologist, I need. Stimulation. I love podcasts. I listen to like so many different ones. I always, always listen to one.

So pretty much, unless I’m working on something that involves language, then I’ll be listening to like word listening. Yeah. Same otherwise podcast. Yeah. And I said, I, I think I’m gonna like, want to have a podcast in my ear at all times while I’m like looking after a newborn baby. And he just said, so do that.

And I was like, what? I, I, I mean, I was telling you what I want, not what I’m gonna do. And he’s like, why wouldn’t you do that? Yeah, and I dug deep and I thought, and I said, I think people might judge me for having one airpod in while looking after a baby. And he said, is it going to help you? So do it was the conclusion.

And I was just like, Apparently I needed the permission. I had something in me that was like the world’s judgment of this one very simple, but very important support for myself that would help me feel like, okay. And just, you know, stimulated and just did a better regulation sense. That one thing I knew what I needed and I still wasn’t going to let myself have it because I was afraid of what other people would have thought of me.

Who are these other people anyway? I wasn’t going to be at home most of the time. What, what, what is that? That’s ableism, love. Oh, it really is. Like that societal norms and expectations and this idea that to be a present parent needs to look a certain way, just the same way as, you know, a child learning needs to look a certain way or, you know, for us to be productive, it should look a certain way.

Like, yes. Oh my gosh, you’re right. It’s like, I thought I wasn’t going to match that ideal parent. Yeah. Whatever that is. And like, is anyone an idea anyway? Wow. I’m still unpacking that clearly, but I seek the support. I go, I have my air pods in like one, most of the time when I’m at home with the kids and I can still help them and I can still wipe butts and I can do all that.

And I can sing songs to them and I can look engaged. I just have a little white thing hanging out of my ear. And I am engaged and I’m like, I have a fast brain. I can do a lot of things at once. And so I, I need to do a lot of things at once, or I go absolutely off. I don’t know. Yeah. Honestly, I was just thinking I’m exactly the same now.

And I was just looking on our thing. The next thing was work. And so this is a beautiful segue. If I do say so myself, please say I’m sagging. So my, it’s got to that time. Yeah. I was going to say, it must be three o’clock in the afternoon because I’m getting silly and that’s great. But for work, I’m exactly the same.

So I can’t sit in silence. And again, unless there is. Language required. So if I’m recording, you know, my, my podcasts or whatever, then I will obviously be focused on that, but anything else, there will be a podcast that we, and even music’s not enough. I don’t know if you find this, but sometimes if I really have to concentrate, music’s enough.

But if it’s just even creating, like say I’m on camera and I’m creating stuff, music’s not enough because it’s almost too predictable. Whereas the podcast, it’s giving some novelty, right? So it’s like, Oh, that’s exciting. But then sometimes I might get so sucked into what I’m creating that I have to then skip back the podcast because I realized I missed it, but I’d still rather have it there than not have it.

Because if it’s too quiet, I’m like, my brain’s like, sorry, I guess we’re on pause because we can’t do anything. Are we all putting on Brooklyn Nine Nine on the TV late at night? I don’t know if that’s how you use that. Oh, so I like, I do like Brooklyn Nine Nine. For me my like comfort things that I’ll often put on repeat are things like the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice.

Awesome. There’s like 60 hours of that bad boy or something isn’t there? Like it’s, it’s so long and I know every single line. So you don’t need to watch it. I do not need to watch it. It’s like a comfort. Yeah. And podcasts. I, I don’t know, is this your division thing, but I love gnarly horrendous stuff.

Like real like crime, true crime podcasts and stuff. But I also think I like analyzing it because there’s an element of science to them often. And I like that. How did they catch the person? How did that come up? Or I’ll be sitting there yelling at my phone, like, how did you miss that? You know, like I’m so invested.

But yeah, so I will listen to voices often of podcasters that I really enjoy. And sometimes I will literally miss the content of the whole episode, but I just love the sound of their voice. For example. You’ve just described how I actually listen to music. And this is how I know I am a Gestalt language learner and a Gestalt processor.

And I watch my daughter, big daughter, be exactly the same because she imitates the baby sounds. identically, this, the whole intonation of how the baby screeches and all that. And so my older kid is like imitating, so sometimes I can’t figure out who’s doing which noise and they have these like screechy happy chats back and forth.

And I’m like, Oh gosh, start language process. I see it. So I see it in myself. I. I have these like favorite musicians and favorite songs that I’ve listened to 4, 000 times. And if you said, what are the lyrics about, I could be like, I don’t know, I don’t know. It’s not really about lyrics. Like I can sing along to it, but I’m not processing the word content.

Yeah. Yeah. And then, you know, the way, yeah, the way that you’re talking about how you just listen to the vibe of these voices and how they kind of transmit themselves to you. I’ve thought of two podcasts. I have to ask you if, you know, criminal. No, I don’t know that one. Okay. Phoebe judge is the presenter.

She has the most chilled voice. It’s almost like it should probably, I bet people fall asleep to this and it’s like a crime podcast. So each one has often quite historical crimes. So the stuff she talks about can be really dark and she has it with the most soothing voice. She’s gorgeous. Love her voice.

And then not voice, but content wise, have you listened to who’s chat on the floor at my wedding? Okay. No, but that sounds exactly like something that I want to listen to. It’s really, it’s an entertaining one. It’s one to listen to the content and it’s like a one distinct series. I binged it in maybe two days and it was hilarious.

It’s just phenomenal. So please do that and tell me what you think. Well, then I have to share the one that I’ve just binged. Which I don’t know if you’re familiar with the comedian. Oh, what’s his name? Let me look it up on my phone now. Jim Jefferies. So Jim Jeffries is the host of this podcast and it’s the story.

It’s called the outrageous true story of Milky Moore. And it is a true story and the guy Milky, he does part of it. And then Jim Jeffries kind of hosts it. And it is this gobsmacking true story of what this guy like did, got away with, got himself out of blah, blah, blah. Australian guy. And it’s, it just blew my mind.

It’s very funny. And the fact that it is true events, I just was hooked. So it was not good for my productivity because it hooked me right in. And I’d be like, Nope, nobody speaks to me. I’m listening. Yeah. That’s like a weekend one, right? A hundred percent. It’s only eight episodes for like the whole series.

So it’s like a little snapshot, but yeah, that one’s brilliant. I’m literally adding to our list. Cause we have been talking about this as a category is like how we listen to podcasts and like, How we choose. I have, I have a special interest in business. Has anyone, is anyone surprised? I you know, have that turned into a business now.

I can listen to business podcast as a category forever. But some of them I listen a little bit and I’m like, Oh no, no, you’re off my list. No, no, that’s, you know, the dudes who are super bro y, dude y, bro, I can’t even define it. But, you know, they’re all like, go get your billions of dollars and you can do it.

You just have to smash through and try harder and you will get your millions of dollars. Yeah. Not into those guys. Yeah. But somewhere between sort of mindset business, even just pure business, but is it like, if there’s some heart and care and thought and a hundred percent but even if it’s a podcast episode, purely about like automations, I’m like, Ooh, I’m all in.

Tell me more. I love it. I just. I, I’m so grateful for my special interests. And then if I get over that, I go down my special interest of neurodiversity and I go listen to various amazing podcasts, all about neurodiversity, neurodivergence, et cetera. And I feel inspired again. And like, just how lucky that the things we love and we can listen to forever end up being the things that we can also turn into our livelihood.

Yeah. So lucky. And I think this is key, honestly, just this is, you know, anecdotal experience as a therapist for children for a long time, you know, more traditionally based community, clinical OT with kids. I think that special interest, the spins, the intrinsic motivators, the things that light us up. As neurodivergent people have to be at the core in order for there to be meaning.

Like as OTs, we talk about meaningful occupation. And this is where, you know, in, in the neurodivergent affirming lens, we’re like, no, we do not discourage, you know, people’s spins and stuff. Like we, we want that motivator to be fueled and allow that to lead to meaningful engagement, success, whatever that looks like.

And I wonder if part of. What you’ve done, what I’ve done, and what hopefully we can encourage other people to do is give ourselves permission to create a life around what it is that genuinely lights us up and not, you know, like not have to, and while I’m sure we’re still masking, like we talk about, like I catch myself masking all the time, like unconsciously, but in the flow of my whole life.

The more I align different areas of my life. So my work with my personal life, with my, whatever to my neuro type, the more I find myself gradually unmasking because. It feels authentic. And I think especially the ADHD side of me, if I’m not intrinsically motivated, it honestly feels like having one hair ripped out at a time off my head to try to focus on something.

And you know, this about me, Adina, because I do not have the business interest you have. And I knew I had to learn about how to market my business. And so I came to you and initially I was just like, I would. Probably rather drown myself in a shallow puddle than have to try to learn this, which is why you’re so brilliant because you found a way of making it interesting to me.

But it’s, it’s one of those things where I don’t know that I could be doing like being an accountant. Or you could probably because you love business, but I couldn’t like, cause there’s no interest, do you know what I mean? And I think we need to, and I hope if others are listening that you know, autistic ADHD is whatever it is that you maybe find the ability to give yourself permission to, you know, create your life around those things that really light you up.

And, and it’s a pathway, isn’t it? And this is what I share so much in the NeuroDivergent Business Collective. And in that business is, it is a privilege to be where I am. And I worked incredibly hard and went through a lot of crap to get to this point of alignment with my interests, with my joy, with my sensory needs, from home, all of these things.

I had to go through various versions and I hope to help people shortcut all that. But it doesn’t just happen. Like if you’re in a job and you know, it’s not suiting you interest wise and engagement wise and relationship wise and sensory wise and all those things, it’s very hard for most people to just say, well, that’s not working for me.

Yeah. But I think having an exit plan can help. Like, just knowing day by day, you are working towards, you know, things being more aligned for you or more aligned with your interests getting control over the controllables just bit by bit that can really help. And we have absolutely neatly segued into the world of work.

And I think there’s just an experience I wanted to share around. It was quite formative in how I came to my knowledge of my neurotype and my decision to actually get assessed in the end. So I think I’ve told bits of this story in various spaces before, but basically I had an office with four rooms.

In Bonaire Junction in Sydney, so kind of expensive, like it’s not the CBD, but it’s a pretty expensive area to rent an office space. I’d gone all in, I had that space. When I did the calculations in my beautiful spreadsheets of how much revenue we were supposed to make in the business and how it was all going to work out beautifully and be a booming business, I didn’t take into account that it was very hard to hire speeches.

It still is. There’s just not enough speeches for the jobs. That they’re around. So I had vague, you know, job vacancies. I didn’t take into account illness. I totally forgot. I didn’t go. I only calculated best case scenario. Whoops. I don’t let people do that anymore. I thought, yeah, I thought that I wanted that life, that team and all of that long story short COVID shut down.

I had a newborn. She was about eight, nine months, actually the age of my daughter now. I had this realization that it was time for me to say goodbye to the team and completely shift business model back to being solo. And the moment I came to that realization, I felt the, it’s like a weight and a burden.

There was a double thing that happened, the weight of like, this is the right choice. And, oh shit. Now I have to make a lot of hard conversations happen and help a lot of relationships get saved if possible. It was just, it was really complex, but I knew it was the right path. So I gave a 10 week run up to actually.

For the last remaining employees and to, you know, the clients and everything. So slow shutdown. Anyway, all of that happened three days after everyone else finished. I still had four months left on the lease. And then we had our second lockdown in Sydney that came just at that point in time. And I was grateful.

I was delighted. I had the best lockdown of my life. I know you’re not meant to say these things, but I had these four rooms that I could go to because it was my workplace. I had no one. I was financially responsible for anymore because the team had gently gradually transitioned to other roles. Yeah. So I wasn’t having that financial burden of the first lockdown.

I had this quiet. I just had quiet and spaciousness and I had pretty much paired my business back to just a couple of clients remained with me. It was blank slate and all the timing was just quite lucky. Yeah. Yeah. And I would not have, you know, wanted the lockdown and all of that, but the constraints of it actually just aligned perfectly with where I was at.

It was this full reset for me. And in those months, I just recognized what I needed. I got what I needed for the first time. I got the quiet. I got the ability to work on new things. So like ADHD me could switch on and go, let’s try this. And I could go new directions because. I wasn’t trying to keep stable for a team.

I was like really just reinventing it all. And autistic me just had no social demands. There was nobody around. I had all this space. I had my like exercise bike set up in one room and like a little filming studio in another room and my office in the other. Like it was, it was crazy. Absolutely delightful.

Yeah. No, I love it. Like, I, I think I can see too how that environment too was meeting the needs of both the autistic part and the ADHD part, because you were being able to create, you were being able to be inspired. You’ll be able to like follow those, those interests and things like that, but also meet the sensory needs.

You know, like from serious burnout, like, yeah, I wouldn’t have got out of it without that. Like I’m weirdly grateful. So that’s, it was a big part of the story of where I’ve landed now. So yeah, I just, I would just want to help other people not get there with, I want to help people get there, but without having to get into burnout first, that’d be nice.

Yeah. How do you see these impacts on your work and the way you’ve taken your, your business direction? Yeah. So I’ve done a very similar thing to you is that I went from practicing as an OT pretty traditionally in a pediatric setting to starting my own business initially because, and I did that at the end of 2020.

And if anyone else was in Melbourne for COVID, we had a great time, didn’t we? But I started my own business because I also finished my master’s degree in 2020. And it found in the study that I did family centered practice where families outside of the client were really being considered in therapy was practically non existent.

And I was like, I want to create a space where I’m fully family centered, which means I’m going to support the parents as well as that child and the sibling. What do they need? Like really looking broadly at. At therapy for a constellation of people existing in the one space. Right. So that’s why I started my own business.

And then that gradually I realized. How much better I did working in an online space as well for physical reasons and for sensory reasons and just so many different things. And so I, and I also realized that if I was working in a space like parent coaching and things like that, that I could work with parents and the more extended family to help kids.

And then what I did, that was probably the hardest decision I made to recover from my own burnout or to begin that process was that I accepted. That at that point, I did not have capacity to work full time. Like all these other people who are pumping out 40 hour weeks or whatever. It’s just not, I can’t do that.

And it was hard because I had all of those things of I’m less than, or I’m this, or I’m that, or like, why can’t I do what everyone else can do? But I realized that when I’m well, and when I’m honoring my own spoons or my own sensory needs, things like that. Then I can be brilliant and I can make a difference, but otherwise I’m pretty useless.

If I say so myself, if I’m in burnout and I can’t get out of bed, that’s not doing anyone any favors. And I think that helped me go, all right, so how am I setting up my business so that my work looks like this or this much time is, is client facing this much is creative time. This much is, you know, different elements.

And again, I want to acknowledge what you said before, Adina, that we are privileged and I think we need to sort of acknowledge that like you did, that we were able to do that, but also that it, I mean, what are we now starting 2020 and I’m now, it’s been like nearly four year journey of doing that. So it’s not like I just got to wake up one morning and be like, I’m going to not go to work anymore.

I actually did transition slowly from working for another company when I started my own business as well. So I had kind of the exit strategy to slowly work up to it. Same as when I started online. I had some still face to face, some online, and then I sort of just filtered it, it out. So, but I think also another thing that came into my head before here’s me being very ADHD and tangential, but a lot of the time I think we’re living in like an away from mentality that we’re.

Trying to make ends meet, or we’re trying to do what we have to do. We know something’s uncomfortable, but we’re driven by this, like, You know, keep the food on the table, keep the money coming in, blah, blah. And it’s hard to be able to look in a toward mentality of what do I want? And this is what I encourage when I’m working with neurodivergent adults that have, you know, recently diagnosed and they’re just going through this identity shift, which is if you could wave a magic wand, like what would it look like, allow yourself to actually even envisage what it would be if it was okay, because until we can start seeing that or having an idea about it, We don’t know what we’re trying to get to, you know, that’s so beautiful.

The difference from away from, to moving towards and having that vision of what would really, really good look like it’s similar to, like, I always do it in a vertical linear thing. You know, where, where the middle of my little zoom window is like, just okay, like just livable possible life too often, especially in therapies and like just.

When we’re in burnout and all of this, we’re just looking to, to not be below that zero. We’re just looking to like be okay enough, which sometimes is a fine goal, but I think in life it’s so much more important to look for the, what is thriving? What is beautiful? What does that look like? What does a really good life look like, man, today I’m living it.

Like I just have to acknowledge it and, and to reflect on the work. That I’ve done and that you’ve done to get here. I don’t know if your day is looking as shiny as mine, but it is like, it’s happy weather outside. That’s not what I’m talking about at all. It’s like I had a morning where of quiet where I could do research and highlight things and find some really just like awful research anyway, but also some really useful stuff.

Like just reading, like, To learn and to see what people are saying out there. Like that was amazing. What a privilege. I then was able to work with my virtual assistant and she’s learning some, you know, new things in the business. So we’re working on that together. That took a few spoons from me. Cause like, You know, I try to be like patient and helpful, like in the broader scheme of things outsourcing the tasks that we’re talking about is like always going to be useful for me, but there’s always the part of me that just wants to jump in and go, Oh, look, I’ll just do it.

Yeah. And that’s probably an ADHD and patients thing. It’s a little bit of perfectionist. Oh, no, it is actually a lot of perfectionist autistic. I’ll do it right. So I’ll just do it all. So that’s. A lot of stuff. I actually want to explore probably next month. I’m going to be thinking about this more in the business business.

And in my podcast for that one aligned. Differently aligned. I just forgot my own podcast name, differently aligned podcast. I’m thinking about that outsourcing conundrum, which I’m definitely getting better at and definitely not perfect at. Yeah. That’s impacting my work. Like I know the moving away from, that’s a really nice framework for it.

The moving away from is me doing it all because it’s limiting. Like there’s only, I have to acknowledge. I’m pretty good at a lot of things, but I also am one person with one amount of time and I have, let’s say about 18 hours of formal childcare a week. Like the, the working hours I can do between, like in those childcare days, about 18 hours a week.

I time track Really precisely at the moment. ’cause I find it fascinating. Yeah. Some weeks I do 35 hours of focus work a week. That is unruly. That is impossible. Yeah, that, that’s me up to 1:00 AM. It’s silly, like I’m the boss, if that’s happening, there’s something wrong with me. Like it’s not the right amount of pressure.

I need to constantly remind myself to slow down my pace of what I plan and what I commit to because I can put so much on my plate and I have really high expectations for myself and big goals. And. I cannot thrive while working 35 productive actual action hours. I’m not talking about like bum on seat, scrolling Instagram, which is sometimes my work anyway, but I’m actually like, I am focused on a task in these 35 hours with 18 hours of childcare.

Figure that maths out. Yeah. I can be, I’d like to actually track my time. Cause that’s something I do not do. No idea. Like people ask like, how many hours a week do you work? And as someone who, you know, you’ll do half now, you sit on the couch and reply to an email over there. Like I have no idea.

Absolutely no idea. Oh, it’s, it’s so revealing. And I only did it for a week or two to kind of get a bit of calibration, I guess, but yeah, it’s actually very affirming. The week that I did 35 hours, it’s not every week, but the week I did 35 hours I I felt absolutely exhausted. And the second I saw that number and I was like, Oh, this is why, like I have pushed myself so hard that the metric actually helped me feel affirmed in my feeling and, and be more gentle with myself on the weekend and the following weeks.

Like I’m not doing that anymore. I can’t, I just can’t. Yeah. I think we’ve done work. I mean, gosh, we could talk about any of these topics forever stuff. I know, I know. We’re good at having a yum. I think what’s interesting, like, and what we’ve kind of highlighted that’s been very similar for both of us is that sometimes it does really feel like The way in which our brains are wired, whether that falls into the autistic category or the ADHD category, or for us both, can sometimes be a really weird, like, juxtaposition.

Like, sometimes it’s complimentary and sometimes it’s, it’s really hard. And I, I wonder if this adds to Which is kind of why I started my podcast and wanted to explore complex neurodiversity. I wonder if these ads that, you know, we talk about like the double empathy problem of being neurodivergent or being neurotypical, but what if then you’re like two ones?

So then you’ve got a lens overlapping of like, I can see it as colors. So I can see, you know, if someone’s got, The yellow lens of being autistic and then there’s the blue lens of being ADHD and then you overlap them and now you have green and so you have like a whole nother experience potentially of what it means to be neurodivergent and then, you know, we could add so many different lived experiences and diagnosis and whatever.

And I think just us unpacking this very common co occurrence. And I think it’s important for people to know whether they have lived experience, whether they’re a therapist working in this space or a parent, that sometimes it can appear kind of like conflicting how someone might present, you know, from day to day or time to time or situation to situation because there’s multiple things influencing that.

And that conflict is part of the experience. It’s not separate to it. It is part of it. And that’s why I love the term ODHD, which is sometimes hard to pronounce. Really easy to. Yeah. Yeah. You know, it’s, it’s meshing these two identities together. And I know we could do some more meshing of different neuro identities as well, but, you know, we’re sticking with the kind of simple two as our main focus today.

But. Simple. As if they’re simple. You made it a little funny, but yeah, like it’s kind of emerging as, as its own experience. It’s like the pull back and forth. It’s fascinating. You know what? I actually feel like I want to do this as a whole part two with you in a few months while we process a little bit more of this stuff.

And you said we wanted to talk about the kind of play and interactions and connecting with people. But I feel like that is almost a toll. Own episode maybe. Yeah. I don’t know. What do you think? No, I agree. I reckon, you know, even just looking at relationships. Yeah. You could, you know, and what that means for some, like for audio HDs and stuff like that.

I think there’s definitely there’s a lot we could unpack there. Okay. So I’m going to put it out there. That will be, we’ll do this together in a few months and we would both love to hear comments from anyone listening. What do you want to know? What do you want us to chat about? What are your thoughts, questions, conundrums, experiences, if you are an audio HD er?

With that focus on relationships and connecting with people cause this will be fun. Yeah. I just know us. We’re going to, we would go forever, but we can do it more justice. I think when we simmer on it a bit more and focusing on that. Love it. What a shame. We’ll have to chat some more. Yes, I can’t wait.

I love chatting with you and I love the stuff that we get into and the things that emerge. And I love that every time we talk, I have my own light bulb moments, you know, like, as we said earlier, neither of us planned this chat at all or where it was going to go, what we were going to get to. But I feel like even I got so much out of it, you know, you know, it’s just exploring different topics and giving ourselves permission to explore them openly and honestly.

And. And share that experience, which admittedly autistic me had a moment at about 2 a. m. going, ah, shit. We’re not prepared. And then I went, but it’s Steph and we are going to figure it out and we will be fine. Yep. I was the same. I was like, Oh my gosh, what’s going to happen? And then I was like, do you know what magic is?

What’s going to happen? Magic. I hope we did some magic here. Okay. So we’re going to do our fake goodbye, Steph. So those listening on the podcast probably don’t know that anyone, unless you are a guest in podcasts or you have one, you do like a fake goodbye for the podcast and then you turn off the recording and then you have a little debrief.

And that’s what we’re about to do. Nobody ever said that on air before. Oh, they don’t, do they? Well, now you guys all know the secret. So maybe instead of saying goodbye to each other and faking it, we can say goodbye to the listeners. Oh, I like that. That’s more honest. Goodbye, listeners. Thank you so much.

This is, I think it’s been a joy to have, to know that there are people ready to hear this stuff. And even if there’s not, it’s actually just been really fun anyway, but we really want to hear from you. What has been, yeah, we do. Interesting, helpful, thought provoking. Yeah, I totally agree. And like, I know people say it all the time on my podcast.

Like, you know, send me a message or whatever. But like, I genuinely mean it. I know Idina does too. Like, if you have feedback or something you want to know more about. Because the more Like, we can share our lived experience, but when we hear perspectives of others, it helps us rethink or reframe. And then we can share something else and reach more people or whatever it means.

So yeah, either of us, both of us, let us know what else we can, you know, cover or share about and especially like Adina said, in relation to that relationships connecting and, and I guess some of the, you know, The issues, the challenges, but also the awesomeness is about being an audio HDR and what comes with that.

Yes. Oh, can’t wait to do this more. Thank you. Listeners find all our links in the show notes. Bye bye.

β€Š πŸ“ Thank you so much for sharing this space and time with me. Thank you for being open to learning and unlearning and to listening to the perspectives and experiences of Neurodivergent folks.

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