Portsmouth comic Joe Wells who went viral with a sketch about his 'non-autistic brother' has released a book and a podcast about being neurodivergent

A COMIC who went viral with a piece about his ‘non-autistic brother’ has released a book celebrating neurodivergent people.
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Joe Wells, from Portsmouth, wrote the book Wired Differently – 30 Neurodivergent People You Should Know over lockdown and it was published this month.

Aimed at the young adult market, it highlights the things these 30 people have achieved, not despite being different, but because they are different. Among those profiled are politicians, activists and journalists, YouTubers, DJs and poets.

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During the first lockdown when he was unable to perform live, Joe put a clip online about ‘having a brother who isn’t autistic’ – it has since been seen by more than 2m people.

Joe was diagnosed as being autistic about four years and the book has been a passion project for him.

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The Guide Award-winning stand-up said: ‘I've worked very hard on it, so it is a relief that it's all finally done. I pitched it during the first lockdown, got the contract in September 2020 and handed it in about a year later.’

Explaining the importance of the book, Joe said: ‘When I wrote it there was so much that was relatable to me, going across all the diagnoses – people not fitting in at school, people being told that they were lazy, or stupid.

Portsmouth comic and author Joe Wells with a copy of his new book - Wired Differently, released May 2022. Picture by Ashleigh SpicePortsmouth comic and author Joe Wells with a copy of his new book - Wired Differently, released May 2022. Picture by Ashleigh Spice
Portsmouth comic and author Joe Wells with a copy of his new book - Wired Differently, released May 2022. Picture by Ashleigh Spice
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‘There was a lot of shared experience and I thought there would be value in hearing that.’

‘A lot of the people I wrote about, when they were young adults were having a hard time, and then they've gone on to be successful as adults, so those stories are useful.

‘A lot of neurodivergent people get defined by the things they can't do and what people say they can’t do. But, for example, I spoke to some really interesting dyslexic people who saw a link between dyslexia and creativity and their ability to do public speaking – that sort of thing. The aim is for the book to be a bit of a counter-narrative to that.’

He has also recently started a podcast, Neurodivergent Moments, with fellow comic Abigoliah Schamaun, who has a diagnosis of ADHD. The third episode, featuring Rufus Hound, was released on Friday, May 27.

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‘It came from a similar place of wanting to share those experiences,’ said Joe .’All those definitions of autism, ADHD, or whatever, they all feel a little bit like they're putting people into boxes.

‘There will be a thing in the autism test asking do you prefer to got to the theatre or a museum? Which is such an arbitrary thing, it's almost based on stereotypes. But where do you go in creating a new definition of those things?’

Each episode featuring guests talking about their experiences – guests lined up include Sara Gibbs, Angela Barnes, and Ria Lina.

Joe added: ‘It's funny, I hope, and interesting to listen to, but I feel like we're documenting – and it's a rather pretentious way of putting it – the neurodivergent experience.’

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The podcast has been well received, and they’ve been invited to do a live version of it at this summer’s Latitude Festival in Suffolk.

Wired Differently is available from Pigeon Books in Albert Road, Southsea, and all good retailers.

The podcast is available on all major platforms.

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