Two years after she issued an apology for her depiction of autism in the 2020 film Music, Sia has revealed that she herself was recently diagnosed with autism. In an interview with Survivor finalist Carolyn Wiger on Rob Has a Podcast, the singer detailed her recent personal developments since receiving her diagnosis, stating: “For 45 years, I was like, ‘I’ve got to go put my human suit on.’ And only in the last two years have I become fully, fully myself.”
The feeling she described as having to play the role of a human, rather than simply existing as one, aligns with the practice of autistic masking. Also referred to as camouflaging, masking is defined as the act of consciously or subconsciously suppressing autistic behaviors in order to blend in with neurotypical individuals.
While it can be detected in early childhood, the nature of the autism spectrum also leaves room for late diagnoses. “I’m on the spectrum, and I’m in recovery and whatever — there’s a lot of things,” Sia said on the podcast, where she also revealed that she is now sober.
“Nobody can ever know and love you when you’re filled with secrets and … living in shame,” she added. “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, and 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.”
Much of the backlash Sia received for Music, which starred Maddie Ziegler, was centered around the casting of a neurotypical actress in the role of a nonverbal autistic woman. In one scene, Ziegler’s character is seen being held in a controversial prone restraint while experiencing sensory overstimulation. In 2021, after the film was nominated for two Golden Globes, Sia issued a series of apologies on Twitter before deleting her account altogether.
“I plan to remove the restraint scenes from all future printings. I listened to the wrong people and that is my responsibility, my research was clearly not thorough enough, not wide enough,” she stated at the time, after previously urging people to “watch my film before you judge it.”
She added that the film’s warning would be updated to read: “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 w [sic] meltdown safety.”
From Rolling Stone US