[86] S7, Ep6: Narrative therapy: reflections on an autistic experience of mental health inpatient services
Topics in this episode: advocacy, autism and trauma, autistic parents, bereavement, meltdowns, mental health, parenting, single parent, things that have changed for the better since diagnosis

Alexis Quinn is a mother, author, educator and former teacher who spent three and a half years in inpatient services following a mental health breakdown in her mid twenties. 14 months into this period, aged 27, she was diagnosed autistic by chance, when an Autism Psychiatric Specialist happened to witness one of her meltdowns.

I first discovered Alexis on Twitter, and I was compelled to read her first devastating but incredible first book, Unbroken, which tells the story of her breakdown, her years trapped in the mental health system, and her courageous break for freedom.

Now 38, she lives in Kent in the UK. Since 2021 she has been Manager of the Restraint Reduction Network, a registered charity which aims to reduce reliance on restrictive practices across education, health, social care, youth justice services, mental health, autism, learning disability and dementia services across the UK and beyond.

In a video made for the RRN Alexis speaks of the importance of creating “cultures that see people as assets, not problems, where genuine relationships are built on mutual trust and respect and people’s rights, their families and their humanity are front and centre.”

In our conversation we talk about:

➡ Alex’s experiences as an autistic mental health inpatient, both before and after her autism diagnosis

➡ The problems she sees in the UK’s mental health system, and the dehumanisation, pathologising and othering of autistic people, and the disproportionate effect on women

➡ The healing process of writing her story

➡ Her work with the Restraint Reduction Network

➡ Navigating pregnancy, birth and parenting as an autistic mother

CONTENT WARNING: Before we begin, please be aware that this episode includes discussion of bereavement, and descriptions of traumatic treatment of inpatients in mental health settings. So if you don’t want to hear about these topics, you might want to give this episode a miss.

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.

EPISODE LINKS:

Unbroken: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/41164820-unbroken

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AQuinnUnbroken

Olaseni Lewis: https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/feb/07/man-died-olaseni-lewis-police-restraint-gentle-giant

Oliver McGowan mandatory training: https://www.autism.org.uk/what-we-do/news/oliver-mcgowan-mandatory-training

DOWNLOAD EPISODE TRANSCRIPT

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