115 [S9 E10] An outcast in thick armour: from not fitting in to finding autistic pride and community
Topics in this episode: autism and employment, autistic accommodations, autistic community, Indigenous American, masking, mental health

Nigel Rising is the Founder and CEO of Autistic Women Emerging, a charity that aims to change the lives of undiagnosed and newly diagnosed autistic women. The charity was born out of her own personal struggle with depression and suicidal ideation, and it is her hope to help prevent autistic women taking their lives because they believe they are bad people, or a burden to others.

Nigel says: “My post-diagnosis journey has become a mission to understand and address why it took so long to discover why I had suffered a lifetime of painful isolation and loneliness. I cannot bear the thought that there are other people in the world right now experiencing the same dark pain I felt. I want other Autistic women to know that they are not alone in the pain, loneliness and isolation they feel when they are experiencing suicidal ideation.”

Nigel was born in Germany to a military family, raised in Texas, and now lives in Denver, Colorado, in the United States. Her MENSA-level intelligence led to a corporate career, but her social limitations and heavy masking took their toll. Now 53, she was diagnosed autistic with ADHD in early 2023.

We talk about:

➡ The impact of her indigenous American upbringing, religious schooling, and her dad’s military background

➡ Masking, hierarchies, her difficulties forming relationships, and her experience of suicidal ideation

➡ Her experience of asking for accommodations in a new role as an openly autistic person

➡ Her growing sense of autistic pride and community after a lifetime of not fitting in anywhere, and the conference for Autistic women she is running in Denver in October 2024, called Autistica Palooza.

CONTENT WARNING: Suicidal ideation. Nigel talks at some length about this, from around 0:48 minutes in to around 0:58, so if you don’t want to hear about this topic, you might want to skip this section


Squarepeg is a podcast in which neurodivergent women, and trans and nonbinary people, explore navigating a neurotypical world and share their insights, challenges and successes.

I hope that these conversations will be inspiring and thought provoking, open you up to new ways of thinking about being neurodivergent, and help you feel more connected to a worldwide community of people with similar experiences.

I’m Amy Richards, and after being diagnosed autistic at the age of 37 I’m now on a mission to learn more about different perspectives and issues around being a neurodivergent adult in a world that feels like it doesn’t quite fit.



Nigel’s website:https://autisticwomenemerging.org/

Autistica Palooza event page: https://autisticapalooza.com

Her LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/nigel-rising-esq-b874902aa/

Referenced article on suicide and suicidal ideation in autistic people from the National Autistic Society: https://www.autism.org.uk/advice-and-guidance/professional-practice/suicide-research

Warning signs of suicide in autistic people: https://988lifeline.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/01/Warning-Signs-Resource-Sept-2021-2.pdf

Autism in Heels, by Jennifer Cook: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Autism-Heels-Untold-Female-Spectrum/dp/1510758690


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