In this episode, I spoke with Sam Mitchell; I learned what many of us need to know. It hit me like a ton of bricks when I asked Sam for his call to action for our listeners. His response to this question was quick and poignant! I consciously looked at the times when I did not understand a situation and gave it that god-awful stare. I never gave it a thought; I just kept doing what I was doing while thinking to myself, "Problems!" This was when I knew I still had problems with this type of behavior. I think we all do this unknowingly as we traverse our day. Let's take some time and reflect on how we see others in their time of trouble.
I learned in this conversation that I need to understand people in a much better, more educated way. I thought I understood what Autism was, but I found out I had very little knowledge of what Autism is.
The power of education is critical. Let's educate ourselves about others!
[00:00:00] Ed Watters: What plans do you have or do you have any plans for Sam in the future?
[00:00:06] Sam Mitchell: Uh, well, right now
[00:00:07] Sam Mitchell: I'm in college. I am in an Ivy tech in Bloomington, Indiana. I'm actually going for a,
[00:00:12] Ed Watters: Congratulations.
[00:00:13] Sam Mitchell: Thank you. I'm going for a business degree for now, but junior year, which is I think not next year, but the year after, I'm going to be transferring to Vincennes hopefully for a media program, hopefully, that's the plan, but
[00:00:28] Sam Mitchell: that's, that's Sam's future. Podcast future, I always joke around saying, ask me in five years, I'll talk about it again. But it's kind of true to, to, to a degree because I'm, I don't wanna say, well, this is gonna happen, this's gonna happen, it doesn't happen. I'm the type of guy who's like, you know what? I'll take this one, one podcast at a time.
[00:01:06] Sam Mitchell: And people like practically evading me and making excuses not to come to anything of mine. So due to that past unfortunately, it's made me to lean, that's great, but I'm not gonna believe it until I see it, until I see that we are in a plane flying up there.
[00:01:26] Ed Watters: To overcome you must educate. Educate not only yourself, but educate anyone seeking to learn. We are all Dead America, we can all learn something. To learn, we must challenge what we already understand, the way we do that is through conversation. Sometimes we have conversations with others, however, Some of the best conversations happen with ourself. Reach out and challenge yourself.
[00:02:10] Ed Watters: Let's dive in and learn something right now.
[00:02:17] Ed Watters: Today, we're speaking with Sam Mitchell, he is the founder of Autism Rocks and Rolls Corporation. Also it is a podcast, a very successful podcast. Sam, could you please introduce yourself and let people know just a little bit about you, please?
[00:02:37] Sam Mitchell: Yes sir, so hello everyone, I'm Sam Mitchell. Nice to meet everyone out there.
[00:02:41] Sam Mitchell: Um, I do run a podcast called Autism Rocks and Rolls. It is about autism and how we cope with daily struggles as I may or may not understand. I'm nearing 9 K downloads and interviewed big guests on this show, such as Temple Grandin and Mick Foley. Um, I've done it since October, 2019 and I do, and that's, I do have a nonprofit through, that started about a little over a year ago and I've been growing it since.
[00:03:05] Sam Mitchell: And can we just see what it holds for me?
[00:03:08] Ed Watters: Yeah, exciting when you do new things and you know, you, you started in high school with a media club, could you talk about that before we get going? What, what was that about and how did that kick start you into podcasting?
[00:03:26] Sam Mitchell: Why, sure thing. So I started, um, In the high school's media club, I didn't do Autism Rocks and Rolls,
[00:03:32] Sam Mitchell: that was just another podcast through the school called Thundercast. And I helped out with a lot of, some of my peers, but I, you know, I knew I couldn't do it forever. So in one way I knew to continue my media skills was to start my own podcast. And that's where I decided to start Autism Rocks and Rolls because I was good at it and it
[00:03:50] Sam Mitchell: just clicked with me.
[00:03:53] Ed Watters: Yeah, well, you're pretty good at it, Sam, and, you know, having that background of media and knowing how to speak with people, it's a talent and you do it very well. I, I really encourage you to keep going. It's, it's fascinating what you're doing. Could you explain to people what autism is, please?
[00:04:18] Sam Mitchell: Yes. And real quick to add onto the conversation, part about you were saying earlier, it's funny how you saying it is good to speak, speak to people because I think in the end, long run, it's practice for me. Because on, if you're on a spectrum, you don't do the best with conversations sometimes. So I think it's kind of an odd mixture, which I'm glad it kind of is though, cuz sometimes the odds work out or the odds, I guess, make the most beautiful ingredients of 'em all.
[00:04:44] Sam Mitchell: But to answer your other question about what is autism? I have two definitions. Society's definition to me is a neuro, neurodevelopmental conditional disorder of just how people struggle with social cues. They're little [00:05:00] repetitive behaviors, they're little stimming, all that. My view of it and my definition is a different way of thinking.
[00:05:11] Ed Watters: Could, could you expand on that and, uh, elaborate what you mean by a different way of thinking?
[00:05:18] Sam Mitchell: I can attempt to.
[00:05:19] Sam Mitchell: So, um,
[00:05:20] Ed Watters: sure.
[00:05:21] Sam Mitchell: So a different way of thinking, it's like, you're, you think, you think out of the box. You come up with unordinary solutions, you come up with ideas, inventions, a podcast example, that
[00:05:35] Sam Mitchell: you turn into a non corporation, you're headstrong. If you ever listen to that song, that's a good song by the way. But that's what it really is. It's just a different way of thinking and we may take a different route than the next guy.
[00:05:48] Ed Watters: Yeah. You know, I, I had Dan Utt on, he is the host of Power Of Weird and his podcast is also fascinating and he has autism.
[00:06:01] Ed Watters: He created this, uh, leadership, moose leadership for me. And his spectrum ability to see and do just these fascinating things, he came up with this because of a simple little sentence that I put on his intake form about Moose leadership training. And he went on and he designed this in his head basically, like that.
[00:06:37] Ed Watters: Having autism is not necessarily a bad thing, in my opinion. I, I think it actually helps enhance those abilities. What, what's your take on that?
[00:06:51] Sam Mitchell: Well, I actually
[00:06:52] Sam Mitchell: agree with you, but I also believe that, example, we, if some people did not have autism, their talents would be out the window, case in point, Temple Grandin.
[00:07:02] Sam Mitchell: She changed the cow industry because of her autism. She didn't have autism, you wouldn't see half the cattle stuff you do there as today. Or Armani,
[00:07:11] Ed Watters: That's very true.
[00:07:24] Sam Mitchell: If he didn't have autism, there'd be no races winning, he wouldn't have won one race.
[00:07:30] Ed Watters: Yeah, that's, that's incredible. You know, I, I hear all of these people thinking that autism is like a disability where it, I guess it could be, depending on the level of autism you have, there's different levels. Could you touch on that for us?
[00:07:51] Sam Mitchell: Yes. And there's high functioning, the middle ground functioning, and then there's low functioning. But in my opinion, This is gonna respectfully disagree with you, I think the low functioning and the middle functioning has something to offer.
[00:08:06] Ed Watters: Oh, of course everybody has something to offer, I agree a hundred percent with that statement.
[00:08:12] Ed Watters: Uh, no matter where you are in life, if, if you don't find that passion that you can give back, I, I find that myself, I, I need to give back to feel good about myself. And I think that is really the, the definition of success, when you feel good about what you're doing and who you are.
[00:08:38] Sam Mitchell: I agree with that statement.
[00:08:39] Sam Mitchell: I would say, I think no matter what you're doing, then you're pretty, you're doing pretty well. And we have a different definition of success, because success to us could be the smallest thing like going and getting the mail every day, that's success.
[00:08:55] Ed Watters: Well, that's, that's a good point. Success is measured different by, uh, well, there's millions and billions of people on the planet,
[00:09:04] Ed Watters: you know, success is measured by the individual. How we measure it really depends on our upbringing and our understanding of life, things like this.
[00:09:16] Sam Mitchell: Right, but you could
[00:09:17] Sam Mitchell: change that path.
[00:09:19] Ed Watters: That's, that's exactly right, that's the joy of living right there. And when you realize that, it, it really can enhance your life in many different ways.
[00:09:34] Sam Mitchell: Yeah. And you, you can't help some of the cards you were dealt, but you're the one who can probably keep drawing the cards. I mean, you can add onto, you got, you were dealt with the cards you were dealt, but you can play 'em down and be successful, or throw 'em in the trash because it wasn't the best
[00:09:52] Ed Watters: That's right.
[00:09:52] Sam Mitchell: card for you.
[00:09:55] Ed Watters: Yeah. Choice, you know, we always have that choice and [00:10:00] sometimes I think people make choices irrationally, and they don't really think about the choices that they make. How does that affect you? Being able to, you know, choose. Do, do you, do you go rational and really think about what you're doing before you make a choice or does your autism allow you to just
[00:10:30] Ed Watters: be very spontaneous and just, oh, well, I'm doing it.
[00:10:35] Sam Mitchell: Yeah, that's what it is. I'm, I'm finally, you'll hear me say, oh, well, I guess screw it because it ain't happening, hear that a lot from me. But then there are day, there are times where I try it with the realistic solution to the problem, but if I had to be a little creative, go out and be, unrealistic solution and be a little adventurous.
[00:10:53] Sam Mitchell: So be it, it's my life.
[00:10:55] Ed Watters: Yeah.
[00:10:57] Ed Watters: Yeah, that's right. You know, and, and when you have an attitude like that, you're gonna experience a lot of things. I'm 56 and I've lived with that attitude, that outlook all my life. And it's brought me so many incredible things.
[00:11:14] Sam Mitchell: Right. And there's, but I'm not
[00:11:15] Sam Mitchell: gonna lie. There's also a bad side to it.
[00:11:17] Sam Mitchell: I think there's a pro and a con for that lifestyle.
[00:11:21] Ed Watters: As with everything, yes, I, I do agree, you know. So, uh, what, what are some of the struggles, you talk about having struggles, daily struggles that you deal with with autism, could you outline that for us?
[00:11:43] Sam Mitchell: Yeah, but it's kind of a general question, I'll give her a shot. It depends, we can go into a lot of them, but there's certain aspects. My, my biggest issue, I would say, um, sometimes there's very sensory issues. I don't like a hole in the shirt or a tag that's lingering on the back or a wet t-shirt. That's not very comfortable for me.
[00:12:00] Sam Mitchell: I know it's, I know they, I know it's tolerable for a lot of people, but it ain't tolerable for, for some. And I'm one of those people, it ain't tolerable for me. Um, I used to have really bad meltdowns and I still have really bad anxiety. And what I call anticipatory anxiety, where you just don't know the answer, if something or something will not happen. Uh, I can't find the line between honesty and blunt,
[00:12:23] Sam Mitchell: I've never been able to find that line. And I've excluded a lot of my life and I mean, a lot of my life, believe me. When I say a lot of life, trust me, it's been a lot of my life. And, uh, and I think those are some basic ones, but there are probably others I'm thinking along that I can't think of down, right now.
[00:12:43] Ed Watters: Yeah. Well, you know, Dan, he talked about that also where, if, if he's got something on the mind, it's got to come out and he's going to say it, you know? And he, he says that sometimes he feels bad about that, but it still has to transpire or else it's gonna eat him up and it's going to linger with him for a long time.
[00:13:12] Ed Watters: Does that, is that the same with you?
[00:13:15] Sam Mitchell: Oh yeah,
[00:13:24] Ed Watters: Yeah. Well, I, I think everybody should be that way. And I think if the world was like that we'd live in such a better place, you know, uh, because truth sets us free actually, and being truthful is not a bad thing.
[00:13:41] Ed Watters: And I think being straight to the point and getting it right is what matters in life.
[00:13:51] Sam Mitchell: I agree with you.
[00:13:52] Ed Watters: So does podcasting help in your autism in any way?
[00:13:59] Sam Mitchell: I,
[00:13:59] Sam Mitchell: I kind of answered it earlier, but I can go a little more into it. I would say yes, because of the conversations I, I get, I get to learn more social skills and I think I converse better through the podcast than when I didn't do it.
[00:14:11] Sam Mitchell: So I would say in retrospect, yes. I, it's very, it's very therapeutic for me. I mean, I told, I could, I could share some of the stories I haven't been able to share because I felt like no one would get it. Or I felt like there would be no one hearing it out, but I guess I should have shared a long time ago.
[00:14:29] Sam Mitchell: Because obviously I was wrong and incorrect, they wanna hear it. So I was very wrong about that, about people not wanting to hear the story.
[00:14:41] Ed Watters: Yeah, that's, that's so true. You know, Sam, uh, stories change lives and what we experience. A lot of people have a fear to step up to the microphone like you do and
[00:14:56] Ed Watters: you know, just tell people how you see things. [00:15:00] The number of people that we help by doing these simple conversations like you and I are having right now, we'll never know the extent of the help that we actually give and, and it's a beautiful feeling. You, you said you have how many downloads now?
[00:15:19] Sam Mitchell: I think, uh, 9 K if I remember correctly,
[00:15:24] Ed Watters: That's pretty good for what, how many years have you been doing it?
[00:15:27] Sam Mitchell: October, 2019. So three, I think.
[00:15:32] Ed Watters: Yeah. So that's pretty good for podcasting numbers, you know, uh, you've had quite a, a success with podcasting. And I myself found podcasting to save my life, you know, I, I was on this road where I got injured and I just did not feel like I was a man anymore. I hit that depression and I wanted to just die,
[00:16:02] Ed Watters: I just did not have a worth or a value about me. And when I came across podcasting, it kind of rejuvenated my life and it showed me, well, maybe I do have something to offer. So, no matter our age or the level of experience we have, podcasting is definitely therapeutic.
[00:16:30] Sam Mitchell: Right.
[00:16:31] Ed Watters: How many, uh,
[00:16:32] Sam Mitchell: With, with autism, and you saying basically with, well, it sounds like with mental health issues, you know, it can change you for the better and, you know. I mean, they always say, oh, mental health issues,
[00:16:42] Sam Mitchell: oh my goodness. You just need to go to Meadows or asylum. No, there's some beauty to you, just gotta find it. It's gonna change you if you look at it.
[00:16:53] Ed Watters: Yeah. You know, mental health, it, it does have a stigma and, you know, especially us men, we like to put things off on the back burner when it comes to our mental health. But mental health is definitely just like our
[00:17:10] Ed Watters: physical health, if we don't maintain it properly you're gonna have some issues. And I, I like to say that we all kind of have mental health issues and we have to learn to deal with them properly. What's some of the support mechanisms you have with your mental health and your issues with autism?
[00:17:35] Sam Mitchell: Uh, I would say some, some coping mechanisms are,
[00:17:39] Sam Mitchell: a lot of the time's family, you know. They got, got great family supportive family who, who will basically have your back, its a support system, so for sure them. And I would say what helps me the most is just getting away from people as well. Honestly, finding your second home, whatever that incorporates, whether that be a boxing studio, gym, uh, at a restaurant,
[00:18:03] Sam Mitchell: whatever that good place is that you can find happiness, not like your first base home, like for your house, but a place that you kind of can call your second home, go there. Case in point, my studio behind me is my second home.
[00:18:19] Ed Watters: Yeah, yeah. I think that's very important, Sam, because if we can't get away from what's bugging us, and sometimes our family does bug us,
[00:18:29] Ed Watters: uh, we, we just kind of compile issues and then we tend to snap and it's, it's not really a good thing. And if we find that solace in a, uh, different place, an area that we can just go to, it, it's a good thing. And I, I find the studio to be the same, same thing, you know, it's, it's the place I can come and
[00:18:59] Ed Watters: basically record my thoughts, my, my intent, and that gives value. You know, how much value do you see in your podcasting work?
[00:19:15] Sam Mitchell: I see the value every day. I mean, I, I don't try to shut, I don't wanna like, my, my biggest issue is I don't wanna shut up about it. Cuz I don't wanna come out, hey, look at this, Eric, look at me, look at all the work I've done because Eric, no matter what, there's some people who are gonna think that. But it's not,
[00:19:32] Sam Mitchell: I want people to understand, it's not for me, you know, the podcast itself. Yeah, it was for me, uh, at first, but now doing it through four, three years, I've seen I'm, I'm not doing this for me. I'm not being greedy, I'm doing it for options, I'm doing it for anyone who's on a spectrum who feels they're alone, or for anyone who feels alone just as a person, they don't even have to be a spectrum.
[00:19:58] Ed Watters: Yeah, that's true, you know, and, [00:20:00] uh, I started podcasting and I, I was trying to heal myself from anger, and hostilities, and hurt, resentment. And through talking to people like you, uh, I have found so much healing because I'm not alone. And, and that's what podcasting does for so many people, whether it be through
[00:20:25] Ed Watters: a special niche that people, they tend to click up and wanna talk about one certain thing. I am a variety type show, I love
[00:20:35] Sam Mitchell: That's me too.
[00:20:37] Ed Watters: to speak with anybody about everything because I don't know enough. I wanna know everything that I possibly can before I part ways with this earth. Knowledge is very important and to spread our knowledge through these podcasts,
[00:20:56] Ed Watters: it's a beautiful thing, that's for sure.
[00:21:00] Sam Mitchell: I agree with you there, man. And I'm like you with the variety, I can't do the same episode. I can't just talk about autism, I wanna interview people, I wanna have some fun with it. By, in my eyes as fun, comparing something to autism to make you understand what autism truly is.
[00:21:18] Ed Watters: Well, that, and that is a good scenario, you being out on the mic and anybody else that has different problems, it doesn't just need to be autism. Just being out there in front of people and letting them know, Hey, it's okay, you know? We all live this world together and it's hard. So finding that comfort is, is very vital.
[00:21:52] Ed Watters: What, what plans do you have or do you have any plans for Sam in the future?
[00:21:59] Sam Mitchell: Uh, well,
[00:22:00] Sam Mitchell: right now I'm in college. I am in, uh, Ivy Tech in Bloomington, Indiana. I'm actually going for
[00:22:05] Ed Watters: Congratulations.
[00:22:06] Sam Mitchell: Thank you. I'm going for a business degree for now, but junior year, which is I think not next year but the year after, I'm going to be transferring to Vincennes hopefully for a media program, hopefully. That's the plan. But
[00:22:21] Sam Mitchell: that's, that's Sam's future. Podcast future, I always joke around saying ask me in five years, I'll talk about it again. But it's kind of true to, to, to a degree because I'm, I don't wanna say, well, this is gonna happen, this is gonna happen, doesn't happen. I'm the type of guy who's like, you know what? I'll take this one, one podcast at a time.
[00:22:40] Sam Mitchell: You tell me it, you tell me I'm going to speak at Washington DC, great. And I'll put it on the back burner. But I'm not gonna believe you until I see it a hundred percent. I'm the type of guy, as RVD says, watch Rob Van Dam who's a great wrestler, I'll believe it when I see it, I don't get excited for much because of the past.
[00:22:58] Sam Mitchell: And people like practically evading me and making excuses not to come to anything of mine. So due to that past unfortunately, it's made me to lean, that's great. Well, I'm not gonna believe it until I see it, until I see that we are in a plane flying up there.
[00:23:14] Ed Watters: Yeah. Well, that's good advice for people right there.
[00:23:17] Ed Watters: You know, don't, don't put all your hope and dreams into something that hasn't transpired yet. Because sometimes things happen and not necessarily on purpose, things just happen. And it might not be the way you see it, or it might not happen at all. And you've kind of gotta be okay with that.
[00:23:49] Ed Watters: Yes, exactly. And through podcasting, you know, doing interviews, there's been a few interviewees that has not showed up and it used to really bug me, you know, I, I, what is it me? Is it something I said? So in, instead of turning that internally, now, I always reach back out and say, I hope you're doing okay. If, if there's anything I can do, let me know.
[00:24:26] Ed Watters: And I really hope we can hook up for a podcast. My expectations have changed since I've,
[00:24:35] Sam Mitchell: And I'll tell you this too, you're
[00:24:37] Sam Mitchell: more forgiving than I am. And I don't, when someone doesn't show up with mine, I don't go like, I go like arrrrgh, you know, I don't like turn into a Rhinoceros or anything, that doesn't happen. I get frustrated at the end.
[00:24:47] Sam Mitchell: I'll be honest with you, I do, but I don't get full on angry. I'm just like, eh.
[00:24:53] Ed Watters: Yeah. Well, it, it makes you feel like people don't respect your time and your [00:25:00] effort, you know. And I don't know about you, but as a host of a podcast, I wanna know my guest and I, I wanna feel like they're part of my family and I want that close niche feeling.
[00:25:16] Ed Watters: That really tends to build a rapport with people a lot more. So finding that comfort in podcasting takes a long time.
[00:25:29] Sam Mitchell: It does. It really, really does.
[00:25:30] Ed Watters: Yeah, I, I started, you know, dabbling in podcasting back in 2007. But I really did not get serious until about 2018, 2019. And then I said, well, heck maybe, maybe I can do this,
[00:25:51] Ed Watters: you know, I, I can't do a job like I used to, but this gives me something where at least I'm servicing my peers, my, my, you know, community in some way. You know, a lot of people say you're just talking to people, but really I see it now more as I'm investing in people.
[00:26:19] Sam Mitchell: Right. I agree with that statement.
[00:26:21] Sam Mitchell: I mean, I try to invest in people who I believe, I'm the guy who has to make the first approach and it's kind of sad. But I've never been as what people would say in my opinion, approached, which is where they were the ones who started the friendship, they were the ones who started the bond. And I've always had to been the first one, while frustrating, it is, it is what it is.
[00:26:45] Sam Mitchell: And I'm okay with trying to show that, that I, I don't have to start the bond all the time. But I'm hoping to get to a point where they'll come to me and I don't have to come to them.
[00:26:57] Ed Watters: Yeah. That's hard, Sam, you know, I deal with that myself, reaching out to people is so hard for me. What, you know, living a life, a long life and having so many disappointments, it can make you calloused and chapped.
[00:27:16] Ed Watters: And it's challenging not to fall into that. So finding that forgiveness before it even starts, that, that is a big tip that I wanna hand out to people. You know, don't expect people to be what you want them to be, let them be who they are.
[00:27:39] Sam Mitchell: And that's what my editor says all the time, be you. And I know,
[00:27:42] Ed Watters: That's right.
[00:27:43] Sam Mitchell: But there's some true, powerful meaning to it.
[00:27:48] Ed Watters: It is, it's powerful, you know, and, and if you live it, it, it really can be that power you're seeking. So, Sam, do you have any call to action for our listeners that you would like them to do for you?
[00:28:07] Sam Mitchell: Right. Well, One thing from call to action is, in my eyes, you need to hear about autism, you need to hear these stories,
[00:28:16] Sam Mitchell: you need to know what a social story is, you need to know why we do the things we do. So we, so you know, not to stare at us at Walmart or at the airport. I mean, I know, that at Walmart there have been tantrums and I'm probably guilty, I did them when I was young. I, I bet you did too. But there, I bet some cases
[00:28:39] Sam Mitchell: where it wasn't a tantrum, it was a full blown meltdown because of the Walmart sirens, sirens that I did not expect to come. And that, there you go, it wasn't cuz I was like mad I didn't get my favorite toy, it was because of a sensory issue that I could not help. It was a different wiring where I could not help it,
[00:28:58] Sam Mitchell: you need to know this. You need, need to give us a chance, too.
[00:29:05] Ed Watters: Yes. I, I really agree with that, you know, I, I really didn't not know a lot about autism until I met Dan Utt. And when, when this came across my desk to be able to talk with you about it, I said, yeah, right on, learn more about that because I, I really,
[00:29:27] Ed Watters: I really think that we as people, like you said, those stares, those looks, like what the hell? You know, that, that can really be detrimental in many ways to people. So learning to adjust and not be that person thats going to be staring, that's hard. You know, there is no normal. And when somebody is thinking that they're [00:30:00] normal and you're not, well, who's really got the problem,
[00:30:04] Ed Watters: that's my question. You know, so yeah, I really appreciate all that you do. And if we can help you in any way, reach out to us. Thank you so much, Sam, for being on the Dead America Podcast with us.
[00:30:23] Sam Mitchell: Of course, thank you.
[00:30:27] Ed Watters: Thank you for joining us today. If you found this podcast enlightening, entertaining, educational in any way, please share, like, subscribe, and join us right back here next week for another great episode of Dead America Podcast. I'm Ed Watters your host, enjoy your afternoon wherever you may be.