Episode recap: Autism with Sam Mitchell

In the 2nd episode of The Art and Science of Joy: Special Episodes -series, we were honored to be joined by Sam Mitchell to discuss the topic of autism. Our guest Sam is not only a college student living with autism, but also a teenager running his own business and using his voice to create awareness and change through the Autism Rocks and Rolls podcast. You can find out more about Sam and his work through his social media handle @autismrocksandrollspod, as well as on his website autismrocksandrolls.com.

During the episode we discussed many areas of life related to autism such as relationships, childhood, the school environment, common misconceptions, and some of the positives as well as the negatives. Sam also shared some of his personal experiences and perspectives on living with autism, as well as a glance of his philosophy around it. We touched on some common stumbling blocks people often have when encountering with autistic people, and Sam gave his tips to both people with autism as well as to neurotypical people to create better interaction for everyone. Here are some highlights for you to skim through in case you haven’t yet had time to listen to the full episode – which you absolutely should!

In autism, there is strength

I’m very creative, I like to think outside the box, and I’m very adventurous mentally and physically.”, Sam says. ”There are more positives than negatives and people need to see those positives and negatives. I mean yeah, I won’t lie –  there are negatives – but to me there are more positives, coming from a personal perspective.”, he continues. Sam’s philosophy is ”Don’t treat it as a threat but as a gift, because the more negatives you take upon it, the more likely you are to hide them in the shadow. And that doesn’t need to happen!”.

The biggest thing Sam says is that he is very outgoing, has a strong personality, and great integrity. As a person, he tends to gravitate towards not only autistic people, but also those who need help finding their own identity and those who have a story. He feels that he can help others to become better people, and through his podcast he was not only able to make a difference to some listeners but also to himself. To add to that, Sam will be going to City of Broken Arrow, Oklahoma to speak at the National Autism Conference, and on April 16th he will be attending a gala dinner event where they get to host Miss Temple Grandin virtually.

Tips to better encounter people with autism

On top of all, Sam recommends everybody to get a basic understanding of autism. Knowing a little bit is already going to help a lot. Learn to understand the different needs people on the spectrum might have and take those into consideration if needed. For example, if someone is experiencing an anxiety attack, understand that the person having the attack cannot help it and act accordingly with empathy and aim to help. While autistic people might not be as mentally sensitive in some situations as most people, they might be physically sensitive to external stimuli and may, for example, react with stimming.

With empathy and small everyday deeds everybody can help to create a joyful spirit for all

Sam feels it is important for neurotypical people to gain an understanding of autism because society is not fully accepting of it. At the same time, people with autism must do their part by working on themselves to grow as individuals as well. To put it simply, it is all about communication, empathy and remembering to take other’s perspectives into consideration. Sometimes autistic people might appear a little blunt, and in those moments, it might be best to wait a short moment, and then to communicate clearly to the person if you think that they might have crossed a line. Together each person can do their part in building better relationships and a better environment for all of us.

Being aware of autism isn’t enough, it needs to be accepted now.

Sam Mitchell

Talking down to autistic people is still a problem. Often there are misconceptions that autistic people are unintelligent or uncapable of doing anything. Autistic people may or may not sometimes have unique or exceptional talents or interests, but the misconception is that these people should just sit still and do nothing. One can take that and do something bigger with it, it is possible!

In a world designed for people who see and experience the world differently, we should all educate ourselves on the daily struggles and discrimination people on the spectrum have to go through, so we can help build a better world for all.

Intrigued by the topic?

To find out more about autism, to better educate yourself and people surrounding you, and to enjoy great rock music as well as amazing guests, we highly recommend you go listen to Sam’s podcast Autism Rocks and Rolls!

Here are Sam’s recommendations for you regarding both autism as well as a more joyful everyday life:

  • Get a basic understanding of autism
  • Live everyday like you don’t have tomorrow
  • Listen to rock and roll music, particularly Elvis and AC/DC  
  • For the inspired people who might still be a little scared of following their dreams: Just go for it!
  • If whatever you are working on doesn’t get bigger at first, try harder!

If you want to listen to the full podcast episode, you can find it here or on your preferred podcast platform by searching The Art and Science of Joy. Remember to subscribe to the podcast for more episodes, and inspiration for you to start living a more joyful life!

Further reading