Backpacker Radio #183 | Mackenzie Fresquez on Backpacking with Autism Spectrum Disorder and ADHD

In today’s episode of Backpacker Radio presented by The Trek, we are joined by Mackenzie Fresquez. Today’s interview focuses on neurodivergence in the outdoors, as Mackenzie has been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. We get Mackenzie’s experience with how this has interfaced with her long-distance backpacking trips- including a NOBO LASH on the PCT in 2021, what unique challenges someone with ASD faces in the context of a large on-trail community, and what advice she has to offer others with ASD who aspire to get into backpacking.

We wrap the show with a packed array of segments, including some tips for UL backpacking with a baby, the triple crown of best drunks, a couple of very juicy stupidest things of the week, a new cinnamon court submission, and more!

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Interview with Mackenzie Fresquez

Time stamps & Questions

00:04:26 – QOTD: How long are dog’s memories?

00:11:32 – Reminders: Monthly Patreon Q&A episodes! Become a Patreon supporter!

00:14:44 – Introducing Mackenzie

00:15:19 – Tell us some nature trivia!

00:17:28 – Give us your backpacking resume.

00:19:33 – What made you want to start the PCT after leaving the CT?

00:20:20 – Introduce us to the topic of neurodivergence.

00:21:19 – Why do you think there is a lot of attention about neurodivergence content on social media right now?

00:22:10 – What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?

00:25:45 – What made you go from masking your symptoms to seeking a diagnosis?

00:28:00 – Discussion about insurance coverage for autism assessments

00:29:10 – What was the tipping point to answers and how has the diagnosis helped?

00:31:12 – Do you consider your diagnosis a benefit or hindrance for backpacking?

00:35:30 – What do you know now that you wish you’d known before starting your hikes?

00:36:36 – Discussion about social situations on trail

00:40:02 – DId your symptoms manifest in any additional ways?

00:41:36 – What separates general social anxiety from ASD?

00:42:15 – How did you prepare for the PCT?

00:44:56 – Will you prepare for future backpacking trips differently?

00:45:52 – Which backpacking routine is your favorite?

00:46:36 – Do you have a superpower?

00:47:40 – How was the response to your facebook posts?

00:51:00 – Discussion about self-diagnosis versus clinician diagnosis

00:52:33 – Why is being able to label something important?

00:53:55 – What was the negative bi-product of faking extraversion?

00:54:40 – What else do you recommend for someone considering their symptoms?

00:56:33 – Why are GI issues common in people with ASD?

00:58:22 – Discussion about “curing” autism

01:00:35 – Did you have a lot of social discomfort on the PCT?

01:02:05 – Thank you!


Stupid Thing of the Week

Trek Propaganda


Gross or Not Gross

Cinnamon Court

Triple Crown of best drunks

Mail Bag

5 Star Review

Listener Voicemail

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A super big thank you to our Chuck Norris Award winner(s) from Patreon: Andrew, Austen McDaniel, Austin Ford, Brad & Blair (Thirteen Adventures), Brent Stenberg, Christopher Marshburn, Dayne, Greg McDaniel, Kristina Diaz, Matt Soukup, Mike Poisel, Patrick Cianciolo, Paul Packman Sealy, Sawyer Products, and Tracy “Trigger” Fawns.

A big thank you to our Cinnamon Connection Champions from Patreon: Dcnerdlet, Jacob Northrup, Jeff LaFranier, Keith Dobie Jr, Liz Seger, and Peter.

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