Authentic Achievements with Special Guest Kadin McElwain

Authentic Achievements with Special Guest Kadin McElwain

Authentic Achievements with Special Guest Kadin McElwain

Defying the Odds: Kadin McElwain’s Journey to National Autism Advocacy

In this inspiring episode of Authentic Achievements, host Kim-Adele Randall is joined by a remarkable guest, Kadin McElwain. Kadin, an autistic college student, writer, and activist, is on a powerful mission to raise awareness about autism and bring it to the forefront of national conversations.

Throughout his life, Kadin faced scepticism and doubt, often being told he wouldn’t amount to anything due to his autism. Yet, with unwavering determination and resilience, Kadin has continuously defied the odds and proved his naysayers wrong. His story is not just a personal triumph but a beacon of hope and inspiration for many facing similar challenges.

Join us as Kadin shares his journey, the hurdles he’s overcome, and his ongoing efforts to advocate for autism awareness. His insights and experiences are a testament to the power of perseverance and the impact one person can make in the world.

Listen now to hear:

Kadin’s personal story and the challenges he’s overcome

His passion for writing and activism

Insights into his mission to bring autism awareness to a national audience

Encouraging words for others facing similar challenges

Connect with Kadin McElwain:

Read Kadin’s articles on The Sports Column

Follow Kadin on Facebook

Call to Action:

If you enjoyed this episode, please take a moment to like, share, rate, and review Authentic Achievements on your favourite podcast channel. Your support helps us reach more listeners and continue bringing you inspiring stories like Kadin’s. Thank you for being a part of our community!

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[Music] [Applause]

0:06hello and welcome to this episode of authentic achievements where I’m delighted to be joined by The Fabulous

0:13Kaden melway Kaden lovely to have you here thanks for having me Kim oh I’m

0:19super excited about this but before we get into the conversation let me share with our audience a little bit more

0:25about you so Kaden is an autistic college student he’s a writer and an activist on a mission to raise awareness

0:32about autism and to bring it to a national audience throughout his life he was told that he couldn’t amount to

0:38anything because he was autistic but time and time again he’s proved his naysay is wrong and I’m thrilled that

0:44I’m able to be part of that journey in breaking down those barriers and sharing with a wider audience just what can be

0:51achieved when we take away the label so Kaden can you start by sharing with us a

0:57little bit about your journey so far please yeah absolutely I was diagnosed

1:02when I was 2 years old coincidentally after getting the small poox vaccination that didn’t cause it of course but I

1:09always find it funny because that conspiracy is always floating around

1:14these days which is obviously not true and that’s very confusing to me and part of those stigmas I want to clear out and

1:23uh Elementary School that was easy for me I was popular people understood I was

1:29autistic looking for a friend and they respected me cuz back then we didn’t see

1:36labels but miss SCH high school as typical with a lot of people that was a

1:42nightmare of bullying and being treated like garbage misunderstandings drama and

1:49unnecessary crap and and medle school actually my AP

1:54was cut off completely without my parents knowledge or consent which is actually a legal

2:00here in the states and they weren’t going to tolerate that so what my parents did was

2:07they wrote to every single autism organization in the state of Tennessee which is where the school was at yeah

2:13and they even threw an a state center cuz they thought they had some power to

2:20bring that back CU they knew that IEP was my a big thing for success in school

2:28problem was the school couldn’t tell I was on the autism spectrum because I was doing well academically doing well

2:35behaviorally in fact I was some my teachers most favorite students not to

2:40brag and uh they pretty much misunderstood the whole thing which I

2:46found absurd I still find it absurd because I think that schools should know

2:52that autism doesn’t necessarily mean drooling on yourself speaking in runs

2:58and not being able to maintain yourself it means you may be smart you may be

3:06amazing behaviorally you might just need help with the social stuff and all the other

3:12complicated things of life and then of course Co hit in my

3:18junior year of high school so everything was online at first I absolutely despised it the most but the more I got

3:26into it the more I learned that I could concentrate better on online than in the

3:31standard classroom no need to worry about students bullying you or making you feel shed of who you are no need to

3:38worry about your IEP hanging in the balance on a Fred it’s just you your

3:45computer and your academics and I actually ended up graduating early on Valentine’s Day of

3:512022 yeah and then I got into college I started my freshman year at lakeer

3:57College which is in Pays Ohio and this is where my advocacy work

4:03truly began it all started with a class project we had to do for a leadership

4:08class the assignment was to think of a way to help the community and act upon it so me and my group this was a group

4:15project we set up a GoFundMe for Autism Society of America and we ended up

4:21raising over a thousand bucks and we won a contest with him school with it but as

4:29to typical with my generation the Tik Tok generation my group truly wasn’t into it they only wanted to do the

4:36assignment to get the grade and the prize money we got for winning the contest and I found that absurd and I

4:43also began to notice a trend around that time autistic people aren’t taken

4:48seriously enough well not just autism other special needs too and I thought hm

4:56in today’s inclusive Society you would think that would be a mainstream issue

5:01but nope we’re focused on Tik Tok B and and negativity and division especially

5:08this just this year alone so I thought if no one else is going to take it

5:13seriously I might as well be the leader of this movement to bring it to a mainstream audience so that class

5:21project led to all kinds of opportunities for me including talking with government officials about

5:28autism going on shows like this to tell my story and bring it to people’s

5:33attention doing a Christmas drive for people with special needs so we ended up

5:39raising getting enough toys to help four families with special needs

5:45kids have the best Christmas ever that’s amazing nine different businesses

5:50Pittston and I even shed my birthday with the one of my favorite

5:56organizations the Lake County Special Needs birthday CL club which is here in Paynesville I believe and we raised $200

6:05during the birthday fund raise so we held for that that’s amazing I I love that you’ve

6:12taken your lived experience and are now sharing that to help others because I

6:18think that’s one of the that’s one of the big challenges isn’t it when when you when we’re going through something

6:25we think we’re on our own and actually lots of other people are going through the same thing but we don’t know where

6:31to go to find that out to to understand

6:36what it’s like um and and actually what other opportunities there are so I love

6:42that actually you’re taking that and instead of letting that adversity drag you down you’re actually using it to

6:48propel yourself forward and to help other people learn also from your lived experience and and help us break down

6:56those barriers because as you say you we’re supposed to be an inclusive society and yet we still get it so wrong

7:04don’t we yeah we absolutely do I think we’re making progress but I

7:12think there’s a better way like with the the I I think that’s a really good idea

7:19in hind sign we just got to make sure we balance it out putting sensitive topics into

7:26schools so that’s great and all I think kids need to learn how to respect others

7:32for who that they are there’s a but there’s a better way to approach sh there really is as to not

7:41further cause divis because so I think you’re in Britain right right now here

7:48in the states what there’s division every where

7:54these past few months of some people of my generation decided it would be

7:59appropriate to act like a wild animal on college campuses for a CA V believe in

8:07I’m not going to say it because I don’t want to get too deep into po politics out of respect but uh personally I found

8:14that absurd because that’s not what you do to get your point AC Ross and you

8:21most certainly don’t commit crimes like vandalism and assault for the cause

8:28either and I told some students this another

8:34school I transferred to after my freshman year can State University I said look I admire what y’all are doing

8:41but there’s a better way just do what I’m doing plan fun raisers do stuff like

8:46this and but the problem is uh whenever

8:51you do that especially in my generation you get attacked and accused of hating

8:59certain group groups and people are quick to jump to conclusions and it’s

9:04terrifying to me it truly is yeah it’s scary isn’t it when you think that we’ve

9:11managed to create a society where um we we kind of we kind of compare

9:19ourselves and we want to we want to fit into a box we want to fit into a label so that actually we won’t be singled out

9:25as being um too different because different is unacceptable and yet we’re

9:30all different every single one of us is different so we need to get to a space

9:36where we can embrace the differences and find the commonalities isn’t it find a

9:41way through where we can work together and I’ve always thought a large part of that is to understand better and we

9:49understand better by learning other people’s Story by learning what it’s been like for them because that gives us

9:56a better insight to be able to um find a new way through doesn’t it find a way

10:02where everyone feels included and and valued you mentioned in the piece

10:07earlier that actually you know when you first started out at school um everything went much easier because

10:14children don’t they don’t see the labels until they get older do they they just

10:21accept you as their friend for for who they are and so I wonder is is there

10:26anything you could share with us that you think we could be doing differently in how we’re educating our

10:33children as parents and as you and as Society to not be so hung up on those

10:39labels that they get to slightly later on in their childhood I would say honestly teach

10:46your kid kindness the second first beginning to start school and continue that lesson

10:53throughout their academic career especially in high school and college Co

10:59my time in college has been great so far people are more inclusive but there’s still about small

11:08few who act like children and think going frats is okay a and hting girls is

11:16okay and it’s there’s still division on college campuses as well especially

11:22amongst student groups uh and that’s because there’s a lack of kindness in

11:28the world and it’s my per personal belief that everything starts at home if parents

11:34have are mean to a child teach them to hate certain groups due to whatever reason and worship people like Alex

11:42Jones or Andrew Tate or son Diddy Co OHS

11:47if you know who he is is more likely than not the child’s going to go out and

11:53do the same thing it’s a monkey SE monkey do situation especially nowadays

12:00we’re are keeping up with Jones’s situation if you will but it doesn’t

12:06cost a lot to be kind it really doesn’t well no but I think sometimes that’s one

12:12of the other challenges in life the things that the things that come to us for free we don’t value enough so

12:18kindness and love and compassion they’re all free don’t cost us anything we can

12:24have those and therefore we forget to Value them and we’re too busy instead

12:29you Val valuing possessions which um are never going to be as valuable as as like

12:35you say that bit of kindness I’ve got a seven-year-old um and we talk about

12:41kindness all the time kindness to self kindness to others because um you if

12:46you’re not being kind you know will say to her is that kind what we’re thinking

12:51um to get her to just consider how would she feel if she were on the receiving end of whatever it was she you know

12:58she’s just said because I don’t think we spend enough time trying to put ourselves in the other person’s shoes do

13:05we to think how are they going to how would I feel if I were them and this was being landed in in my door at my you

13:12know in my space yeah exactly we truly don’t but ourselves and other person’s

13:20shoes these days especially my generous instead they whine and complain and moan

13:27and gran and there’s this thing going around called cancel culture where they

13:33TR try to bring celebrities down over their pasts and they throw that in their

13:40face and it’s getting even worse quite frankly with artificial intelligence in

13:45my opinion because you can now digitally manipulate images or videos and that

13:52further takes away people’s careers and lives and it further spreads negativity

13:59in a way yeah and and and sadly you know that’s driven by the fact that as a

14:05society as a whole we seem to prefer to see things going wrong than we do to see

14:10things going right and I don’t know why I don’t know why that is I don’t know why we’re so driven by you know if

14:16something goes wrong then then we’re all over that if something’s negative if there’s that negative energy then that’s

14:22the thing that gets watched whereas if it’s something that’s really positive and uplifting then um you know you’ve

14:27got to fight so much harder to be heard um and yet you’re so right in what you’re saying kayen if we have had more

14:33kindness in the world and more willingness to be open-minded to what it

14:40might be like for the other person then actually we would start to have less

14:45negativity wouldn’t we we’d start to find some positive common ground that we can work

14:52from I I like that that I absolutely agree we need common ground

14:59especially now more than ever yeah and I think that that’s the I think one of the

15:04challenges and I talked to people about this all the time is we we’ve we as our

15:09brains work we are quick to make a judgment so somebody says something and

15:15we immediately will decide whether we agree or we disagree with it I I agree I disagree and actually for me one of the

15:21things that I think as well as kindness we need more of is curiosity of ourself

15:27and others so you know now when I find myself immediately making my judgment of whether I agree or disagree I will ask

15:33myself okay that’s really interesting why are you so adamant that you agree or you disagree I wonder how they got there

15:40so just try and look around the the situation because we live in a world of

15:45polarity for every up there’s a down for every left there’s a right one doesn’t exist without the other so for whatever

15:52we’re thinking the opposite is also true and once we create a space where we can

15:58be over open to that we start to see things in more of a 360 and that helps

16:04us to find a different path doesn’t it to to be able to disagree with each

16:10other but not disrespect each other it’s like we don’t always have to agree but we just don’t disrespect it’s we treat

16:17people with kindness even if we go I have a different opinion to you but you’re entitled to yours and I’m

16:23entitled to mine um we can leave it there um but we seem to have created

16:28this thing where you you’ve just got to win you’ve got to win the argument you’ve got to win the reasoning rather

16:34than just be open to learning something new would you say that’s fair that’s

16:41absolutely fact we’re not open to new things and new ideas these days instead

16:48we want things to remain the same and we want negativity to remain the same I

16:56think here in the states they just just passing a house bill or something for I

17:03think immigrate racing or whatever climate change maybe and they sought it

17:09down because they knew that people would Bine and complain and moan and grown

17:16because they like their lifestyle and they want things to remain the same yeah

17:23I think sometimes that fear of change can hold lots of people back because change is known isn’t it and even if we

17:30might not love what we’ve got today at least we know what it is and and when we go into something that is unknown then

17:37we’re having to take that leap of faith into the fact that it will it will be

17:43the same or better and I think that sometimes discourages people doesn’t it

17:48it absolutely does so you’ve already done like so much and and I love that you’re using your

17:55voice to to kind of raise awareness on this what would you say is the thing that you’re proudest of so far H

18:02proudest accomplishment here I’ll show you it’s I would

18:09say I don’t want to break anything this bad boy here the proclamation for Autism

18:16Awareness Day in pis County it’s not in my name of course but

18:21I was the first autistic person in the history of them recognizing this state

18:27to get bad boy historically this county has only done doctors and presented it

18:35to them but I called up the commissioner cuz she was running for

18:40reelection of commissioner in her County and I asked her look what do you guys do

18:46for autism aarness and how do you help the autism community and she told me about to how

18:53they recognize autism or to State constantly and I told him my story and she was like oh you should totally come

19:00to the ceremony we’d love to recognize you we normally do doctor and people in the medical field

19:08but it’d be nice to give a different perspective and as the same goes for

19:13rest is history oh I love that I love that and so and you’ve shared this a lot

19:19throughout this this conversation that you you know you’ve um you’ve reached out and spoken to to um senators and and

19:28other people and raising awareness in the community going out and speaking to other organizations how do you find The

19:35Bravery to do that and that’s as an individual not because you’re autistic

19:40because that’s something that holds so many people back isn’t it that Having the courage to take that first step so

19:48how do you do that well I’m just a guy who believes in the cause

19:54and like we talked about open to new ideas and new

19:59experiences PR much particularly with a speaking I was non-verbal until I was

20:05seven years old which is a symptom of Autism being non-verbal until a certain point in your

20:12childhood and once I started talking I pretty much just can

20:17stop only got that seven years like already of all your thoughts like really well planned in in being able to I I

20:26guess you an amazing Observer of life um because you weren’t communicating it

20:32verbally at the time so your other senses get heightened don’t they so I

20:37would imagine um you got to see things in a way that perhaps we we miss when

20:43we’re busy talking because we’re busy thinking about what’s going to come out of our mouth next AR we we absolutely do

20:52um I might be volunteering at an Autism Center near

20:57where I live live this summer I got to follow up with him today hopefully but

21:03that’s going to teach me to be very grateful to where I’m at and the success

21:09I’ve had so far because of the people who go to bat Center they can’t walk they can’t talk they’re more lower

21:16functioning they than I am and they have to be taken care of for the rest of their lives and it’s truly sad to see it

21:24truly is yeah yeah but I think you so right and you use the word be grateful

21:30and gratitude and I think sometimes we get so stuck in our own world that we

21:36forget ad just all the things that we have to be grateful for that we perhaps take for granted um you know that that

21:43because they they’re there all of the time like the ability to walk and talk

21:48and and look after yourself is something that we can forget to be grateful for

21:55because it h you know we have that already but you when you see people that haven’t got that it reminds you of all

22:01that we have to be so grateful for doesn’t it to enable us to to to give

22:07thanks back yeah really does so so I

22:13think that’s the problem with what’s going on with Dy right now the raids and

22:18the arrests and the lawsuit because with wealth comes ungratefulness with

22:24ungratefulness comes an inflated ego which makes him think he can do whatever

22:30you he wants yeah I I think we we have to keep ourselves grounded don’t we in that know

22:36gratitude and and kindness and compassion for and for me I always share with people make sure that self and

22:43others and because I’ve seen it where it’s just others and and then the person has isn’t giving anything for themselves

22:50um or if it’s just about self then you’re not ready being like grateful and kind because you’re doing it at the

22:56expense often of other people um so kayen for you um what would you say has

23:02been your greatest lesson so far I would say and I’ve had buns keep

23:08in mind Embrace who you are has been the biggest life lesson I’ve

23:15learned as uh it took me a while thanks to the bullying I received in middle and

23:21high school and some personalists used to truly Embrace autism and who I am am

23:28I at first I thought of it as a curse and something that can be cured but even now I’m still learning about it and the

23:35more I’m learning about it the more I’m learning that autism can actually be a blessing because like you said my

23:41perspective of the world is more open I see the issues of world openly I’m

23:47incredibly intelligent and believe it or not there’s been a bunch of successful

23:52people with Autism who’ve made Great accomplishments in Worlds of technology

23:57and entertainment men in science say Isaac Newton he was on the Spectrum Einstein was on the

24:04Spectrum Elon Musk was on the spect Dan aoid one of my favorite

24:12philosophers Frederick n all these people were on the autism spectrum yet

24:17they still overcame whatever struggles they had to have tremendous success in

24:24their Industries in fact one of the highlights on my college career this was interviewing another person with

24:31autism who’s had success Temple grandon amazing and you’re right so so

24:39many people um have achieved great things who are on the spectrum because

24:44from what I understand from from s people um you you can often see patterns we

24:50can’t see because your brains just work in a slightly different way and that’s why you know I know lots of organizations that are really starting

24:58to Embrace neurodiversity as a way to um increase the talent in their

25:04organization because actually we can start to see things in a much more 360

25:09Way by actually building teams that include the neurodiverse uh to help see patterns and

25:17and um solutions that can’t be seen without you without their special talent

25:23and I love that you you you know you now are seeing your autism as a a blessing I

25:29think you know everything in life that that happens to us I believe is either a lesson a blessing or both so when I’m

25:35not feeling very blessed I look for the lesson and the blessings usually sat there um but we’ve got to go looking for

25:42it haven’t we we absolutely do so what’s next for

25:47you well at the time of this recording I’m in the final stages of planning a

25:53voting event in my count on June 2 to

25:59add to my local D wne the purpose of this event is to get people to go out

26:06and vote in this year’s presidential election of course this episode will come out the 26 but at the time of this

26:14that event would have taken place so at the time of posting of court or so so

26:22maybe next year I’ll do a follow up with you to update you on how that event went

26:28but it’s going to be awesome this is the most important election thus far and it’s the first

26:35year I can vote legally as an adult I’m G to be 20 this year so that’s another

26:40thing I’m sharing with my community of course I got a bunch more podcast

26:47appearances and platform appearances this year and of course I’m going to be

26:53a junior in college and hopefully by the time I get my degree have a successful

26:58career in public relations and I’ve had my fun I might even run for political

27:05office because I think world politics needs a neurod Divergent mind in the Mex

27:12especially in American politics it would probably teach people not to be so corrupt and

27:19disrespectful I love that so there’s definitely loads plans and I’m looking forward to hearing how you get on with

27:26that and sharing those successes how can people get involved what can they do to

27:31help well if you’re in the Ohio area I’m 20 first to come to the event at DQ in

27:42pero but in the sense of autism overall I would say do the same stuff

27:48I’m doing plan fundraisers plan events go on platforms like this if you’re on

27:54the Spectrum to tell your story and most importantly just be kind to people like

28:00you said it doesn’t cost a lot to be kind yeah it doesn’t then we can all do

28:06that um we will make sure kayen that in the notes below people can get in touch with you so we’ve got your got your

28:12links um to you and you’ve also you’ve got a book as well haven’t you oh oh no no I don’t have a book book uh I have a

28:22Blog of sports sorry it was yeah on sportcom Doc

28:28uh exact same spelling of my name when you search for it so you can check those

28:35out Fab and we’ll make sure that there that they are in the notes below so that people can um continue to work to see

28:42your work and to help share your message so you’ve already shared so much with us but if you could go back and I know

28:49you’re only 20 but if you could go back and give your younger self a piece of advice what would it be I would tell my

28:56younger self Embrace who you are and if people don’t like you for who you are

29:03don’t give them the time of day because forever ones who are gonna miss out on an amazing

29:09person I love that because we we do sometimes we we kind of we hold ourselves up against other people’s

29:15perceived opinion of us instead of actually just getting comfortable with who we are and you what you shared

29:22reminds me of of you know of a quote of that I found a few years ago um and I was very guilty of desperately trying to

29:29be everybody’s cup of tea and as a British person it’s impossible we could argue about how we take our tea as much

29:36as we could argue about politics and religion it’s like it’s just never going to happen and this quote was um I’d

29:42rather be somebody’s shot of whiskey than everybody’s cup of tea and I loved that because for the right people you

29:49will be their shot of whiskey and for the rest of them they’re just not your people um and once you can let go of

29:55that everything becomes so much easier doesn’t isn’t it it truly does kayen

30:01it’s been an absolute Delight to chat to you thank you so much for coming on and sharing your story and thank you for

30:07having the courage not just on this show but in life in general to take your lived experience and share it to help

30:14other people to gain the awareness so that we can provide a better and more

30:19inclusive Society so thank you thanks for having me Kim it’s been an absolute pleasure until next time take care


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