[57] S5, Ep2: Dancing with differences: autism and disability empowerment
Topics in this episode: advocacy, bullying, disability, health, is autism a disability, support, things that have changed for the better since diagnosis, writing

Amanda Harrinauth is a disability empowerment coach and poet from California, USA. She was born premature, weighing just 1 pound 7ounces. She had hydrocephalus and other health problems, and her parents were told she was unlikely to survive beyond a few days, and that if she did, she would need to be institutionalised. But against all the odds she survived – and her parents made the decision to raise her at home. She is now 32.

She spent her childhood in and out of hospitals, suffered seizures and is now vision impaired as a result of Retinopathy of Immaturity, a congenital birth condition. Then at 26 she was diagnosed autistic, with an intellectual disability. She began writing poetry as a way to process her thoughts and emotions following her diagnosis, and says it was through her writing that she finally learned how to make her autism work for her. 

She says, “I may be vision impaired and autistic but I have big dreams. I have a choice every time I deal with a new obstacle: to let it win or to fight back. There is no cure for any of my conditions, so I’m just going to keep telling them who’s running the show. I believe we can overcome anything.” 

As well as being a poet, she does public speaking, is involved with the Special Olympics and also works with other disabled people as an empowerment and life coach. She says she supports her clients to “celebrate and love who they are, so they can live their dreams and spread love for the common good of everyone”.

In our conversation we talk about 

➡ Perceptions of disability

➡ How writing helped her come to terms with her autism diagnosis

➡ Her childhood difficulties

➡ Routine, boundaries and comfort items

➡ Disability, challenges and accepting help

➡ Her work with the Special Olympics and as an empowerment coach

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.



Amanda’s website: http://www.poetmandy.com/ 

Her Instragram: https://www.instagram.com/amandaharrinauth/


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