Autism vs Being Deaf with Liam O’Dell


E:What’s the sign for YouTube?
L: *signing* You – Tube, because it’s a tube E: Hello welcome back to my channel today I have the wonderful Liam with me Would you like to explain to who you are? L: I love when people say that because – E: Liam is a journalist and a deaf activist and a theatre reviewer L: And a person We were discussing the fact that Liam is deaf, I’m autistic and I’ve been
learning some beginnings of BSL like enough to talk to the deaf customers I get at work
and I’ve also found a really cheap BSL course online if anyone wants wants the link I will hook you up because that was impressive.
L: yeah also yeah there’s also like an additional code that you can do as
well. E: so, do that. Most courses are really expensive
like £300 and I know why because of the time and the resources it
it makes sense but also that makes it so its not accessible to a lot of disabled people or people working
with disabled people E: Liam is deaf, I’m autistic we were discussing the fact that BSL in particular, probably more so than ASL relies a lot more heavily on on facial expression – L: I mean they all do E: because obviously if you’ve not got
sound and you’ve not voice words – voice words?! – mouths words?!
audible words you have to use other things to communicate such as hands or
facial expressions . L: absolutely E: I’m autistic and I don’t understand facial
expressions particularly well I think I’m at some advantage to an extent
because I because I didn’t know I was autistic have to teach myself to
understand that so I have kind of a thing in my head where I’m like, the
way I explain it to people is my experiences is that it’s not automatic I’m having to do it manually so if I see someone’s facial expression I
almost have to run it through my internal glossary to then know what it
means. Whereas some people can’t do that
but I think because of my experience I had to learn to and especially
being a girl you get slated if you don’t I also
don’t necessarily do facial expressions in the way that it is expected which
is a common autism sign and I just wonder particularly because I there are
definitely deaf and autistic people or autistic and deaf friends I was thinking what we what we how do we
navigate that and also there’s a lot of autistic people who turn out to be deaf Liam: yeah if we’ve had a discussion
it’s interesting cuz I think that was talked about how yeah I think there’s
also like aspects all tests to diagnose autism that involve being able to
respond that but also to I think my one of the tests is to respond to someone
with their back turned. E: there are different tests but L:but it’s
interesting though because I thing that’s I can’t remember where
read it or who were saying it or what but they were saying – but also tone of voice and if you answer to loudly or too quietly L: but that’s the thing that we live with
tests people there’s the risk where people say can you be misdiagnosed as
autistic well actually you are deaf because perceive a lack of communication or interaction with social cues as being autistic E: or not being able to understand things as being autstic or being soley deaf. E: can you explain the capital D deaf? L: sure, so there’s
there’s two different types there’s they call it which I realize now when I spoke
to another friend might actually been you know it said they call it big they call it big D deaf
and small D deaf. So both of them relate to you being deaf but it’s about like
how you both identify medically and then also whether you identify with the
community. So so small d deaf relates to kind of seeing yourself as medically
deaf like you use the medical definition hearing loss you know you don’t
necessarily have that integration with the deaf community,
you don’t you maybe know a little bit of sign language but you don’t you’re not
fluent. Big D deaf isit big deal is you’re fluent. in sign language you’re brought into the
community you are integrated into a community and you are deaf and proud and
the interesting thing is that I’m kind of in between the two. E: yeah you straddle L: yeah because I’m only mildly deaf so unless you can tell I communicate orally
and that’s kind of the main way that I do it which is side me more towards
small D deaf but then I’ll be involved in the community so yeah so it’s a
tricky one but you’re right the communities for both deafness and autism
are huge E: I think with the thing with the autism community is that it is
increasingly less about well it isn’t really about the medical diagnosis
because we realized that so many groups particularly women typically trans
people particularly non-binary people are typically people of color or
people do have other disabilities diagnosed much
less likely to be diagnosed autism and the process for it is so difficult that
we like self diagnosis in the autism community is very acceptable – I mean it is it
should be for – access diagnosis at any point is a privilege
because like financial resources, physical resources, it’s a privilege
to get a diagnosis and I think we definitely have a community that’s very
well formed I think it’s really interesting the #actuallyautistic community is probably the equivalent of being like being capital D deaf it’s something that we all like very integrated the community
you feel like you can be part of it and I think a tries to include as much as
possible and meet people where they’re at with the acknowledgement that, like with deaf people, you might not necessarily have had avoid wide experiences like lots of
deaf people grow up in hearing environments, and have not necessarily been taught sign language I think with us like we are
often working with people who’ve never had any interaction with the disabled
community or the neurodivergent community diagnoses especially if the are the first one. L: well that’s the
thing like I don’t know you probably have had those connections now but
prior to diagnosis for me at least I I was probably like I only knew one or two other people in my area alone you know in the world in the in
the world or in the UK that was deaf it was only after a diagnosis that
identified to reach out reach out to try and find out were
people like you you find it so E: I was quite weird and I turns out I knew a lot
of autistic people but I didn’t know were autistic. I was really good at getting on with the
disabled kids I wonder why like was? Whether they were neurodivergent or whether
they had cerebral palsy or Down syndrome like I always had people like access to
a disabled community but it was always seen as all this person wants to help
this like poor disabled person and I’m like no I just actually communicate with
them better yeah I remember so I used to L: it’s common ground isn’t it remember I was teaching over the summer
and like I don’t get I didn’t get told any access needs until the day of and they go
oh there’s this like autistic person and they are like they’ve had a really bad
time I wish but we can communicate while stimming like stimming can be
communicative, like a way of communicating and they’re like how did you get them involved in what we were doing?
and I was saying because we’re both autistic and we’ve both been
communicating we don’t have to be speaking to do that. L: that’s kind of
interesting they just say you’re saying that you are communicating through stimming, that’s kind of a like nonverbal
communication I think something like stimming isn’t always communication but alot of the time signal either happiness or distress or if
you have got for example a child who is stimming moving their hands or flapping for
example which is a common stim and you’re telling them not to what you’re
actually doing is stopping them from being able to express themselves.
Similarly if you’ve got a child and you tell them they’ve got to speak quieter-
L :oh wow that’s that’s a big mood E: you’re gonna be and it’s gonna have an impact upon
their mental L yeah yeah that’s something I relate to a lot ouch truth hurts folks. E: In the true words of Lizzo. E: What should people do right now?
E: *whispering* go to your channel L: Is this youtube? Is this what we’re doing right now

2 thoughts on “Autism vs Being Deaf with Liam O’Dell

  1. this was really interesting! i had super bad glue ear and ear infections as a little kid, before school age so 3/4 ish and i literally have very early memories of after having grommets put in and being able to actually hear stuff for the first time. i pretty much didn't speak, didn't react "typically" in conversations, once i could hear i had more sensory-overload meltdowns.. so a lot of my early autism signs, but it was all attributed to my hearing problems? i often wonder if it would have been suggested a lot more early on that i might be autistic if that hadn't been the case (which would be really nice because it was only first suggested when i was 12 and it's only now i'm 19 that i'm even on the 18 month long waiting list for an assessment). also – non-verbal autistic communication is pretty much my favourite thing

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