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MANILA, Philippines – Australian singer-songwriter Sia said that she has been diagnosed as autistic in an episode of Rob Has a Podcast on Friday, May 26.
“I’m on the spectrum,” the “Chandelier” singer, 47, said, opening up about her diagnosis alongside fellow podcast guest Season 44 Survivor finalist Carolyn Wiger.
“Only in the last two years have I become fully, fully myself,” Sia shared on the podcast. “Nobody can ever know and love you when you’re filled with secrets and living in shame. And when we finally sit in a room full of strangers and tell them our deepest, darkest, most shameful secrets, and everybody laughs along with us, and we don’t feel like pieces of trash for the first time in our lives.”
“We feel seen for the first time in our lives for who we actually are, and then we can start going out into the world and just operating as humans and human beings with hearts and not pretending to be anything,” she added.
Sia is a nine-time Grammy nominee and recently married long-time boyfriend Dan Bernard in May. In November 2020, she was criticized for casting Maddie Ziegler, a neurotypical actor, as the titular character who has autism in her directorial debut film Music.
“Sia has got this one wrong,” the National Autistic Society tweeted. “There are so many autistic talented actors out there.”
The film followed a newly-sober drug dealer Zu (portrayed by Kate Hudson), who reconnected with her younger, non-verbal autistic half-sister Music. Upon its release in February 2021, it continued to receive backlash for its false representation of autism and its dangerous use of restraint against people with the disorder.
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a developmental disorder that stems from differences in the brain, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For people with ASD, building social communication and interaction skills is challenging. They may experience delays in learning language, movement, and cognitive skills. While symptoms of ASD can be observed in patients as early as nine months old, it can be diagnosed at any age.
Sia, who initially defended her decision to cast Ziegler in the film, later apologized on Twitter and promised to add a warning at the head of the film: “Music in no way condones or recommends the use of restraint on autistic people. There are autistic occupational therapists that specialize in sensory processing who can be consulted to explain safe ways to provide proprioceptive, deep-pressure feedback to help with meltdown safety.” She deactivated her account shortly after.
Sia is best known for hit songs “Titanium,” “Cheap Thrills,” “Unstoppable,” and “Elastic Heart.” She released her debut studio album OnlySee in 1997 under her full name, Sia Furler. – Cheska Lingad/Rappler.com
Cheska Lingad is a Rappler intern.