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April 5, 2024 63 mins
What is autism? This question comes up a lot these days, and conversations around autism are extremely nuanced, making it hard to pinpoint one right way of looking at it, so let’s explore autism from what it means historically and clinically to how it represents identity, and all the things in between. In this episode, Patrick Casale and Dr. Megan Neff, two AuDHD mental health professionals, start the conversation around autism with an honest and insightful discussion about “what is autism” and the intricacies of social interactions experienced by those on the spectrum. Top 3 reasons to listen to the entire episode: Gain insights into the realities of social motivation and its challenges as our hosts reveal their personal struggles with engaging in conversations, especially when they're not “interesting” enough to fuel the interaction. Understand the profound impact of autistic culture on communication forms, with Dr. Neff and Patrick breaking down the DSM-5 criteria of reciprocity, and offering their own thoughts on the criteria including a counterview of how care can be expressed in unique, meaningful ways for Autistic people. Delve into the transforming neurodiversity landscape and consider how our language choices and the metaphors we use to understand autism can influence identity and self-perception, potentially shifting away from deficit-focused narratives. To start to answer the question of “what is autism,” it’s important to consider the layers of effort and adaptation that accompany social encounters and reflect on your communication style. Resources: For this conversation, we are using Is This Autism By Dr. Donna Hendreson, Dr. Sarah Wayland, and Dr. Jamell White. You can find it here. The publisher is giving our listeners a special coupon during this series! Use Code: NDI24 to get 30% off and free shipping Valid through 6-Jul 2024 (must purchase using this link) We’ll be reading this book for our book club in June in the Neurodivergent Learning Nook. Learn more about our community here. DISCLAIMER: We're using the DSM-5 criteria as a framework for this conversation, but this is not our endorsement of the DSM. There have been a lot of very thoughtful critiques of the DSM in the last several years, including how autism is presented in the DSM as very deficit-based. We do not align with that view, but we did use that as a framework to walk through our experience of autism and to unpack the many ways that those criteria could show up in a person. This is our attempt to help demystify the process of diagnosis. —————————————————————————————————— 🎙️Listen to more episodes of the Divergent Conversations Podcast here 🎙️Spotify 🎙️Apple 🎙️YouTube Music ▶️ YouTube —————————————————————————————————— A Thanks to Our Sponsors: Freed & The Receptionist for iPad ✨ Freed: I would also like to thank Freed for sponsoring this episode. Being a clinician in today's medical or mental healthcare field can be overstimulating. It can be so hard to focus on clients while taking adequate notes. Freed.AI listens, transcribes, and writes medical documentation for you, written in your style and ready the moment the visit is over. No more overstimulation or letting things fall through the cracks. Freed is HIPAA compliant, secure, and takes less than 30 seconds to learn. More importantly, Freed supports your executive function skills, so you can focus on helping your clients. Go to and use code DCPOD for your first month free. ✨ The Receptionist for iPad: I would also like to thank The Receptionist for iPad for sponsoring this episode. The Receptionist offers an iPad list check-in option where clients can scan a QR code to check in, which negates the need for you to buy an iPad and stand. Go to and sign up for a free 14-day trial. When you do, you'll get your first month free. And don't forget to ask about our iPad list check-in option.
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