23 Comments
Apr 2Liked by River Robbins

As someone who was once a depressed autistic teenager obsessed with everything about Frozen and especially Elsa, I want to say thank you so much for this episode!!

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I so relate! "Let it Go" came out during a really rough time in my life and it was everything to me!

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Apr 2Liked by River Robbins

Today is the day that allistics are aware that autistic people exist.

Make sure to hug the allistic people in your life, tell them today is in fact Tuesday and the weather is weathering and that they are an inspiration. 😌✨

I really liked the Elsa episode. I might have listened to let it go on repeat for a few months after I first heard it.

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Same! I had that song on repeat for ages!

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May 10Liked by River Robbins

I was late diagnosed at 64 and realized that I had been masking all the time since I was a child. I don't remember when I started. A couple of weeks ago I had the thought that I had no past. My entire past was as an imposter, not me. I'm now 69 and still figuring out who I really am! Fortunately I live in a quiet place, off grid and away from most people. It's a good place for figuring out who I am. I have a wonderful therapist who diagnosed me and is helping me on my journey.

This episode reminded me of my masking.

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That sounds like an ideal environment for a self-discovery journey!

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May 10Liked by River Robbins

It really is. It's been 5 years since my revelation and I finally feel I can be myself around everyone. The mask is completely off and not going back on. I actually have Friends! Real ones! They accept Me! It's Wonderful!

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Love hearing this!!! Congrats!! <3

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Apr 29Liked by River Robbins

Here are all my thoughts at once, because as you say, this is the Way.

- Frozen is the movie that I waited for Disney to make for decades, because as a child, my favorite Andersen story was The Snow Queen. Because, you know, we love Hans. Before Disney's The Little Mermaid or Frozen existed, I was a little undiagnosed kid who escaped from the world by reading my friend Hans. I think the writers' real innovation was combining the characters of The Snow Queen and Kai, so that their sister Gerda/Anna helping save them from themself

- Thank you for covering Frozen 2 and how it is the second part of the late identified journey, because I had never thought of it this way before! However... I wish you had covered the song "Show Yourself," because I relate to that song so much that it is almost too much. While "Let It Go" could be seen as the late diagnosis theme, "Show Yourself" is the unmasking journey theme.

- Apropos of nothing... the other Frozen characters besides Elsa are named Hans, Kristoff, Anna & Sven, because if you say them fast enough it sounds like Hans Christian Andersen.

- I request that you please cover Encanto, and how it has even more autistic representation than Frozen does, including our superpower of hyper empathy (Mirabel,) our sensory sensitivity (Dolores,) our being "othered" (Bruno)... can you tell what one of my special interests is lol

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I have Moana on my very soon list but not Encanto. I love Encanto but I don't think it represents Autistic Culture...

I think Bruno is neurodivergent, maybe has mental illness of some kind, maybe transgendered, I RELATE to Bruno because "we don't talk about Angela" in my family... like that is my song! but I don't see how he represents unpathologized Autistic culture... he's just not in the film enough.

And beautiful Mirabel who I love... does not seem Autistic to me to represent our culture. Not disagreeing with you but culturally it doesn't like up with the dimensions of autistic culture we have outlined -- bottom up processing, data gathering, logic and strategy, world building, pattern matching, innovative ideas, creativity and out of the box thinking, Consistency and reliability, fandom, justice sensitivity, blunt honesty, (and others but that's what I'm looking for when picking a topic... Compare Mirabel to Moana.

Moana has bottom up processing, data gathering, logic and strategy, world building, pattern matching, innovative ideas, creativity and out of the box thinking, justice sensitivity, blunt honesty. Does Mirabel? Maybe innovative ideas? I just don't see it.

HANS KRISTOFF ANNASVEN/ Hans Christian Andersen - OMFG does everyone know this!!! Is this an easter egg??????

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Apr 29Liked by Angela Lauria, River Robbins

Thank you! I have a lot to share on this, but it's going to be kind of long, so after I write it... would this substack be the best place to put it or should I send it in another way?

Encanto was released exactly halfway between my kid's identification and my own. For a while I watched it every day. If you have ever heard stories about Brian Wilson listening to Be My Baby every day... Encanto was my Be My Baby. So I have a lot of thoughts, I just have to get them together.

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Substack for sure! Long works for me!

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FYI Lin Manual Miranda is one of special interests so I hear you loud and clear.

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I responded above so my long text wouldn't be further indented... thank you for the opportunity to write a lot about my favorite movie <3

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Apr 29Liked by River Robbins

Encanto and My Journey

Encanto was released exactly halfway between my child’s formal identification and my own. I saw it in the theater, and then waited the long month or so for the digital release… after which I watched it every single day for at least six months. The reason it captivated me so completely was that at first I saw my child in it… but then I saw myself.

The themes of disability are immediately apparent, and that’s what struck me when I first saw the movie in the theater. To me upon first viewing, Mirabel was a disabled young person who was actually perfect the way she was - just like my own child. At that point, I related strongly to Julieta, Mirabel’s mother, who tries to convince Mirabel that she is just as good as the other, seemingly more abled members of her family… but Julieta does so rather simplistically. (Julieta is also the “fixer,” who can literally heal others with her food. I related to that as someone who was always trying to help, perhaps too much)

However, upon watching the movie again, and again… I began to see more, just like Mirabel. I realized that while many viewers think that Mirabel is the only member of the Madrigal family who doesn’t have a gift, in fact, Mirabel has a completely unique gift, and the one that saves her family… the gift of empathy. Mirabel can see things in others that they don’t see in themselves. Her entire journey in the movie is seeing each of her sisters, and then in her grandmother, for who they truly are, what they keep inside, what trauma they are hiding and what they are trying to live up to. This is why Mirabel’s symbol is her glasses… because she can truly see, and thus heal her family.

I feel that, like Mirabel, this is often the lot of Autistic people, especially Autistic women. (I realize that I might do some generalizing here, but this is based on my own life experience, as a woman who had the Autistic epiphany at the late age of 48.) The trope that Autistic people do not have empathy is actually a complete reversal. Due to trying to accommodate the people around us, and spending a lifetime trying to make everyone else comfortable, many of us are far more outwardly oriented than our neurotypical friends and family, who are often more self-oriented. We can see things about others that they might not know about themselves, because we are always observing in an effort to fit in. Perhaps it’s a combination of hyper empathy and alexithymia, but often I can feel someone else’s sad story or tears more deeply than I can feel my own feelings. But sometimes, our empathy is our superpower, that lets us more deeply understand situations and solve problems. This is why I relate to Mirabel as the Disney character who is most like me.

My next favorite character is Dolores, who has incredible hearing. Around the time of my own diagnosis, I also went through a surgery that restored my hearing in one ear. I then realized that loud environments, high-pitched sounds, and too many conversations going on at once can actually make me physically sick. What’s more, I realized that I had been that way all my life… just didn’t recognize it Getting back to Dolores, she is shown as having amazing hearing, which can seem like a superpower… but if you watch the movie as many times as I have, you will notice that in many scenes Dolores is in pain or covering her ears. I have a tiny figurine of Dolores that I treasure, because she actually came with tiny headphones!

And then there is Bruno. Bruno’s journey is that he intimidated everyone around him by being able to tell the future. But upon repeat watches, you realize, he’s not actually telling the future per se… he can just see the patterns and predict what happens next. But his excellent pattern detection is scary to others.

I know exactly what this feels like. There have been many times in my life that I can see exactly what’s going to happen, or I know the answer way ahead of others, but I keep it inside, in order to better “fit in.” If we are very intelligent, but don’t want to be the center of attention, it’s what we do. (I have a crystallizing childhood memory, where I read my schoolbook many times faster than everyone else and put my head down, and then got reprimanded for not reading… so I learned to pretend to read slower…) In the movie though, everyone already knows about Bruno’s gift, so he doesn’t have the choice of hiding his excellent predicting power - he is already scary to others. So he leaves. As he says in a haunting line, “my gift wasn’t helping the family.”

The stories of Mirabel’s sisters, Isabela and Luisa, also resonate with me. Isabela has crafted a perfect mask and does everything for the good of her family, including even entering relationships. Luisa is another “fixer,” and runs around fixing other’s problems until she has no energy left. I could go on about the other Madrigals, but I think this is probably quite enough. Thank you for reading!

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"Hans, Kristoff, Anna & Sven, because if you say them fast enough it sounds like Hans Christian Andersen." Eek! So true!!

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Apr 26Liked by River Robbins

I am a Disney adult. I cosplayed as coronation Anna because in the first Frozen she had better outfits but I always resonated with Elsa more, in both movies. I listened to the soundtrack on repeat for months, scream singing them through tears in my car without knowing why they felt so right. This was after I was diagnosed bipolar but before I considered seeing if it was something else, or more. It makes more sense now.

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Can "Let it Go" be sung without cry/screaming it??? (Idina is the exception, of course). LOL

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Apr 9Liked by River Robbins

I watched Frozen in the theater with my sister months after I was diagnosed as Autistic, and she immediately cast me as Elsa and herself as Anna in our relationship. I didn't like the comparison then (I had complicated feelings about my self-isolation tendencies) but now that I understand myself better these characters hold a special place in my heart. That conversations was one of the first times my family reached out to ask "who are you?" instead of "why aren't you?".

I just found this podcast this week and it's so delightful. Your discussions of the Autistic accent in particular has helped me solve yet another personal mystery, and I'm quite tickled by how many of my favorite things have already been discussed! The first thing I did after the introduction episode was look to see if you'd covered A Series of Unfortunate Events, and you had!

One piece of media I'd love to hear you talk about is the books/Netflix show "Lockwood & Co."; beyond great autistic characterization (In my opinion Ali Hadji-Heshmati's George Karim is highly reminiscent of Harold Ramis's Egon Spengler) the themes of the story as a whole are so incredibly Autistica. A quote from the 2nd Lockwood & Co. episode: "The world's mad, and normal never fixed anything. We understand that. It's our USP."

Thank you for creating this Podcast, it feels like what home should.

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"It feels like what home should." Thank you so much for this lovely comment! I added the show to the list of "to be considered." ;)

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I haven’t seen this in the comment section yet so sorry if you’ve been bugged about this but would LOVE a heart break high episode

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I added it to the list!

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Apr 2·edited Apr 2

I haven't seen Frozen yet. I should remedy that. My autistic mother liked the HCA story The Snow Queen.

Mathilda, I did tell an allistic friend on FB that if she weren't 1000 miles away, I would hug her. Oh! and I hugged another friend (actually she hugged me) but I suspect she's highly masked autistic.

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