[8] S1, Ep8: Is autism a disability? And how does it relate to mental health?
Topics in this episode: autism at work, coming out, disability, is autism a disability, mental health, reasonable adjustments

Rachel Stelmach was diagnosed autistic in her 40s. She works for a disability arts organisation here in Wales, where she works with disabled artists in the fields of Creative Technology and Combined Arts. She’s also a Disability Equality and Mental Health First Aid trainer. 

Her career has included launching her own art and design agency, working for a women’s music festival and running holiday play schemes for disabled young people. 

In her spare time she’s a keen macro photographer and also runs an AirBnB, and is a voluntary advocate helping people through the UK benefits system.

In our conversation we talk about:

  • Autism and mental health
  • The language we use to talk about autism
  • Whether autism is a disability
  • Post-diagnosis and workplace support
  • How to talk to loved ones about being autistic.

We also talk about an operation on her hand that left Rachel with a physical disability; if you are squeamish you might want to fast forward this part. The timings of this section are below.

At the end of this episode Rachel shares some useful information and advice about navigating the UK benefits system – the timings of this are below.

09:20 – 13:50 Rachel talks about the operation on her hand that left her with a physical disability.

43:34 – Rachel shares information and advice about navigating the UK disability benefits system.

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.



You can follow and connect with Rachel on Twitter: https://twitter.com/bluehook 

And on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/bluehook/ 

If you’d like to connect or get in touch with Squarepeg, you can find me on:

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/squarepeg.community/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/squarepegautism 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/squarepegautism/ 

Or on my website: http://squarepeg.community/ 

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