Show Notes


This conversation with Rachel Barcellona was originally released on May 28, 2020. We are re-releasing it today to celebrate some of Rachel’s recent accomplishments.

Rachel is now a Flutie Fellow with the Doug Flutie Foundation for Autism, and she recently won a Hero award from KultureCity in New York. She received the gold medal from the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award and was one of six individuals chosen to represent the United States this summer in Toronto, Canada. 

Continuing her pageantry and modeling, Rachel won 2nd runner up for Miss New York and will be participating in Runway of Dreams, an all-inclusive fashion show incorporating several brands that are adapting fashion to give individuals with disabilities a chance to be seen and heard. Rachel has also been actively pursuing her acting career by performing in movies and theater roles.


Discover what’s possible when someone lifts her mask and embraces true beauty. 

Rachel Barcellona is an Autism Self-Advocate, model, author, singer, actress, and pageant winner. She is also a SkillCorps Alumni, having traveled with the Global Autism Project on a volunteer trip to the Czech Republic in 2018. 

Since getting diagnosed at three years old, Rachel tried to fit in with neurotypical society. However, she always felt that she was different. Encounters with bullies throughout her life, and many years of suffering from depression, motivated her to create an online platform called The Ability Beyond Disabilities. Rachel encourages others to focus on what they can do rather than on what they can not. 

As a multi-title beauty queen, Rachel wants to change people’s views on pageantry, from the image of brainless barbie dolls to that of strong women striving to make a difference. 

In this episode, Rachel and I discuss some of the different perspectives within the #ActuallyAutistic movement. We also talk about the appropriateness of the puzzle piece symbol, the use of person-first or disability-first language, and the media’s portrayal of autism. 

To learn more about Rachel Barcellona, you can follow her on Instagram @rachelbarcellona and visit her website:


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