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Sia has revealed she is “on the spectrum.” The singer opened up about being what she called “neuroatypical” as well as about being in recovery for substance abuse during a recent appearance on “Rob Has a Podcast.”
Sia had revealed last year she went to rehab, saying in a New York Times article the decision came after she received criticism for casting neurotypical actress and dancer Maddie Ziegler in the role of a girl with autism in the 2021 film she directed, “Music.”
She told The New York Times the backlash led to her becoming suicidal and she “relapsed and went to rehab.” In 2013 she revealed she had been addicted to alcohol and painkillers.
“I really relate to the whole ‘recovery brain,'” Sia said, discussing it with recent “Survivor” contestant Carolyn Wiger, who is a drug counselor and spoke about recovery on the podcast.
The singer, a fan of “Survivor,” told Wiger she related to needing to “emotionally regulate really good things happening.” “It’s totally overwhelming, as the same way as processing negative things,” she said.
The 47-year-old pop singer and songwriter said that in addition the being in recovery, she is “on the spectrum.”
“For 45 years, I was like ‘I’ve got to go put my human suit on,'” Sia said. “And only in the last two years have I become fully, fully myself.” She praised Wiger for being someone who “went out in the world and didn’t have to put her human suit on.”
The words “neuroatypical” or “neurodivergent” are not actually medical diagnoses, but are often used by people with autism or ADHD to describe how they differ from others. Autism is often referred to as a developmental disorder that is on a spectrum, with people exhibiting different behaviors of varying severity. Those with autism often have “difficulties in verbal and non-verbal communication, social interactions, and leisure or play activities,” according to the National Autism Association.
“I think being in recovery and also knowing about which kind of neuro-atypicality you might have, or might not have, well, I think one of the greatest things is that nobody can ever know you and love you when you’re filled with secrets and living in shame,” she said.
When Sia cast Zeigler, who starred in several of the singer’s music videos, in “Music,” many critics said she should have cast someone with autism to fill the role.
Sia has since deleted her Twitter account, but at the time tweeted to critics that she “tried working with a beautiful young girl non-verbal on the spectrum and she found it unpleasant and stressful,” according to Variety. She said casting someone with the character’s “level of functioning was cruel, not kind.” Therefore, she chose to cast Zeigler instead.
The film gained more attention after it was nominated for two Golden Globes. Some complained there should be a warning about scenes in which Ziegler’s character is physically restrained. Sia tweeted a warning would be added, Variety reports.
“MUSIC in no way condones or recommends the use of restraint on autistic people,” she wrote. “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 w meltdown safety.”
She later said she planned to remove all the restraint scenes.
Siain “Music” was based “completely” on her “neuro-atypical friend.” “He found it too stressful being nonverbal, and I made this movie with nothing but love for him and his mother,” she said.