The singer faced backlash for casting Maddie Ziegler, who's neurotypical, in the role of an autistic teen.
"I'm on the spectrum and I'm in recovery. There's a lot of things," Sia told Carolyn, who came in third on Survivor, but got a consolation prize from the singer in the form of $100,000. "Being in recovery and also knowing about which neuroatypicality you may have or may not have, I think one of the greatest things is nobody can ever know you and love you when you're filled with secrets and living in shame."
Sia, a Survivor superfan, seemed to suggest that her autism spectrum diagnosis came rather recently, telling Carolyn, "For 45 years I was like, 'I've got to go put my human suit on.' Only in the last two years have I become fully, fully myself."
Carolyn quickly became a Survivor fan favorite by being open about her social anxieties and her struggles with addiction. Sia related to Carolyn for those reasons, which she delved into on the podcast.
"When we finally sit in a room full of strangers and tell them our deepest, darkest, most shameful secrets and everybody laughs along with us and we don't feel like pieces of trash for the first time in our lives, and we feel seen for the first time in our lives for who we actually are," Sia said, "we can start going into the world just operating as humans, human beings with hearts, and not pretending to be anything."
Sia added, "I just wanted to say how inspiring it is to have someone in the world who is going out and didn't put her human suit on, who just showed up and was willing to be rejected, and willing to be the weird one. The kook in me recognizes the kook in you."
"I cast 13 neuroatypical people, three trans folk, and not as f**king prostitutes or drug addicts but as doctors, nurses and singers," Sia tweeted at the time, adding that her "heart has always been in the right place."