“I provide a safe space for people to talk about topics related to the neurodiversity umbrella”
John Offord is a freelance producer based in the UK, who regularly works with the BBC. He has always been interested in psychology, and he is currently completing a part time Masters. He is also the producer / presenter of the award winning ‘Different Minds’ podcast series, which is about Neurodiversity, the different ways our brains can work and interpret information.
“In order to channel my desire to know more about neurodiversity and the autism spectrum, I launched “The Different Minds” podcast series in May 2020, during the first lockdown. It was at that time that I realised how little I knew about autism, as I had a very stereotypical view of the condition”, he explains. “My interest in neurodiversity came after I had first hand experience of living with someone on the spectrum. I think it’s fascinating that we all interpret the world differently and my podcast dispels many myths about the condition”.
“There have been some extraordinary guests so far, including: Former Doctor Who star, recipient of an Emmy Award, nominations for two BAFTA Awards & star of the BBC autism drama, The A-Word, Christopher Eccleston, Chris Packham CBE, an English naturalist, nature photographer, television presenter and author, American scientist, activist, author and speaker, Temple Grandin and Professor Simon Baron-Cohen”.
“The Different Minds podcast series is about the guests, and I am meeting fascinating ordinary people, and also celebrities, including “auties”, educators or medical experts. I provide a safe space for people to talk about topics related to the neurodiversity umbrella, including autism and other conditions such as dyspraxia, dyscalculia, schizophrenia, ADHD, dyslexia, bipolar disorder or Tourette’s”.
Celebrating our differences and understanding each other better
Although he is not autistic himself, Offord realises that it doesn’t matter, “as this initiative is about celebrating our differences whatever they are, and understanding each other better”.
“The response to the podcast has been incredible”, he acknowledges. “I don’t have an agenda, I just allow people to be authentic. They share their experiences with me and I enjoy it a lot. Some examples that come to my mind are my conversation with the Australian sociologist Judy Singer, originator of the term “Neurodiversity”, or the one with the college student Austin Houck about coming to terms with his sexuality and accepting that he has Asperger’s. For me, it’s about powerful stories from ordinary people, people just like you and I. You will hear people from all walks of life, sometimes people living with a neurological condition, other times experts in the field. I am all about demystifying complicated medical terminology”.
A special podcast in partnership with Autism-Europe
To celebrate Autism Awareness month, John is releasing a new episode in April with Adam Harris, an Irish Autistic activist, speaker, member of Autism Europe and the founder and CEO of Autism acceptance group AsIAm. Adam was diagnosed with Asperger’s aged five and founded AsIAm based on his experiences living with autism: