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Celebrating neurodiversity with The Great British Baking Show’s Lizzie Acker

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What’s it like to be a contestant on a reality TV show when you have ADHD, dyslexia, and dyspraxia? Just ask Lizzie Acker from The Great British Baking Show

In this episode, hosts Amanda Morin and Gretchen Vierstra talk about baking and “brain fuzz” with Lizzie, the Bake Off contestant from Liverpool, England. Lizzie celebrated her learning differences on the show with an “extraordinary” cake to represent her brain. Find out why she decided to talk about her differences — and the impact it’s having on others. Plus, hear Lizzie’s idea for a cookbook for neurodivergent kids.

And below, download a cake coloring sheet. Share it with a kid you know or use it yourself to show how your brain works.

Episode transcript 

Amanda: Hi, I'm Amanda Morin. I'm the director of thought leadership for Understood and a parent to kids who learn differently.

Gretchen: I'm Gretchen Vierstra, a former classroom teacher and an editor here at Understood. And this is "In It."

Amanda: "In It" is a podcast from the Understood Podcast Network, where we talk to parents, teachers, experts, and sometimes kids who share stories, perspective, and advice for people who learn and think differently.

Gretchen: And today we've got a very special guest, someone who's shown us what an impact it can make when we represent and celebrate those differences in a big way. Fans of "The Great British Baking Show," or "Bake Off," as it's called in the U.K., will no doubt recognize those notes as the opening theme music from the immensely popular Netflix program.

Amanda: And in the latest season, which dropped this past September, viewers fell in love with 28-year-old Lizzie Acker, who, when she's not baking, works at a car factory in Liverpool.

Gretchen: Lizzie showed up with flaming orange hair, fabulous colorful tops, and an unflappable demeanor. But what really won us over was the extraordinary cake she pulled off in the quarterfinals. Here she is, telling the judges, Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith, what she plans to make.

Lizzie: "I'm celebrating, like, being different. It's going to be a representation of my brain because I've got quite a few SEN issues. SEN is special educational needs, dyslexic, dyspraxic, ADHD, and concentration disorder. So I think, like, people who are slightly different need to be celebrated and, like, represented."

Amanda: That's right, it was a cake celebrating what she calls her SEN, or special education needs — ADHD, dyslexia, and dyspraxia — which we'll get into a little bit later.

Gretchen: The finished product was incredible. Lizzie made a multi-tiered cake covered in rainbow-colored shag-rug-textured frosting to represent what she called her brain fuzz. The judges were blown away.

Lizzie: This is my celebration of being different.

Prue: I mean, that is just amazing. And the rice paper offshoots are just so beautifully done. Look at the tiny little letters and numbers.

Paul: I love it. It reminds me of something from the cartoon "Yellow Submarine."

Prue: I've never seen a cake anything like it. I don't think any of us have ever seen a cake like it.

Amanda: To appreciate how impressive it was to see Lizzie and her cake there in the quarterfinals, we're going to do a very brief tutorial on how this show works, just in case you're not familiar.

Gretchen: So each season, 12 amateur bakers gather in the British countryside in a big tent, fully equipped with baking stations.

Amanda: And every week there's a theme, like bread or biscuits, so Gretchen, what you and I call cookies, and the contestants are judged on the basis of three bakes. Round one is what's called the signature bake, where they bring their own style to a classic recipe, and they can practice this one in advance.

Gretchen: Round two is the technical challenge, where the bakers are presented with a recipe they've never seen before, often for a bake they've never tasted, and they have to tackle it on the spot.

Amanda: Oof, that's a lot of pressure. And, last but not least, is the showstopper: an elaborate bake that must be delicious and visually stunning.

Gretchen: Now, keep in mind, while they're baking in the tent, you've got the judges circling like hawks watching their every move, and you've got the two co-hosts, Matt and Noel, sidling up to them, distracting them with chit-chat and terrible puns.

Amanda: And then there's the competition. All the other bakers running around, chopping, whisking, mixing, cheering each other on, but also trying not to be the one to get sent home that week. You'll hear Lizzie talk about some of those bakers, like Chigs, Giuseppe, Freya.

Gretchen: We wanted to know what this whole experience is like, and especially what it's like for someone like Lizzie, whose brain, as she says, works differently from other people's.

Amanda: We also wanted to know what it meant to Lizzie to share her thinking differences not only with the folks in the tent, but everyone out there watching.

Gretchen: We loved every minute of our conversation with Lizzie, even when we couldn't quite follow everything she was saying, which happens sometimes because we didn't grow up in Liverpool. If you're having trouble following along, don't worry — we've got a full transcript of the conversation on our website at

Amanda: Of course we had to start with: "Oh my gosh, you were on 'The Great British Baking Show.'" We are so excited.

Lizzie: It is so exciting. It's like it was amazing thing to be a part of. It's just like one of them weird things that you never think you're going to be able to do, and then suddenly you're on there and you're like, "What happened to you?"

Gretchen: Was it stressful being on a show like that, or was it just fun?

Lizzie: Probably the prep was stressful, thinking about leaving home for so long. And then I, like, hyperfocused on outfits when I should have been, like, making recipes. And then suddenly I'm just like, "What am I going to wear for, like, week six, if I get there?" And everyone else would be like, "Have you done these recipes yet?" And I'd be like, "Nope, but I've bought, like, 10 outfits —"

Amanda: Your clothes are amazing.

Gretchen: My question for you, as someone who loves to cook and bake, what's it like to be able to use all of their amazing equipment and just have that, that space and that time to be able to cook like that?

Lizzie: Well, it's not really time, because them time limits are absolutely ridiculous.

Gretchen: That's true.

Lizzie: It's probably more stress because, as a baker, you get used to the equipment you have, don't you? And you kinda know everything, and then suddenly there's different scales and they have dead fancy scales with, like, microscales on the sides. And it's the first time I've ever, like, weighed out salts and stuff and I'd be like, my God, I'm really putting like two grams of salt in this cake?

Amanda: OK, one last question before we get into sort of like a little more detail is, who ends up eating all that practice food?

Lizzie: Oh, the crew. There's such a big crew there. The other bakers. It's fantastic. You get to eat everyone's bakes. And, you know, like I've watched every season of "Bake Off," and you sit there and you think, like, I wonder what that tastes like — does it actually taste like that? And then suddenly you're there and you can taste everyone's food and you're like, "Oh yeah, this is great. This is fantastic. I'm going to be able to sit at home and be like that to me family. I've et that, I've et that." It was great. It was like a dream come true, to be honest.

Gretchen: Well, we're going to pivot now to talk about the reason why you're here. It's that you blew the judges away and the viewers away in episode eight, with your extraordinary cake. That was the showstopper round, right?

Lizzie: Yeah, yeah.

Gretchen: So we'd love you to start by just telling us what was the challenge for that round and how did you decide to bake what you did? Tell us about that.

Lizzie: So the challenge for that round was a gluten-free celebration cake. So I learned about gluten-free at that point because no one in my current circle in life is gluten-free. So I was a bit, like, what, what does it even mean? What is gluten? And then I was thinking like, this is obviously different to what we classify as like a "normal" diet. And then I started going off into like, how am I different? And I'm obviously different because I suffer from all these SEN issues. And then it was, like, it should be a celebration of how everyone's different. So with my SEN issues, I get complete brain fuzz sometimes, and like zone out. So I was, like, Oh, I'll do fuzzy piping. And then I was like, I really struggle with dyslexia with letters. So I came up with the idea of the brush-off with the letters and the numbers, and everything, and then put gold around it, just like brain bursts and stuff. So it adapted and adapted. 

And then on the day when it came out like that, no one had seen it like that. And everyone was a bit taken back and there was one point Chigs was, like, stood there, like, "I really want to give you a hug," and I was like, "Don't, because I'm going to cry." And never been that proud of myself, and Giuseppe was still there, like nearly crying and, like, and I was like, oh my God, like, I've actually really done something good, like, for these people that bake so amazing to be that proud of me. Like, you have to be like, then you go off for your interview and I was like, stop, there in the interview, like, don't make me cry!

Amanda: So speaking of crying, can I play something for you? Because I watched this with my family, and my 11-year-old wanted you to hear this. Can I play it for you?

Benjamin: Hi, Lizzie. I just watched the episode with your celebration cake. I'm Benjamin, I'm 11, and I have ADHD and autism. I just sat bolt upright when you said "brain fuzz," because I'm like, "Oh my God, I can relate to this." And it really meant a lot to me because it felt like you're representing me in a way too.

Lizzie: Oh God, you've got me crying again.

Amanda: I didn't mean to make you cry. I just wanted you to know what an impact you actually made.

Lizzie: Oh no. Like, I think it's like lovely. Like, it's really lovely. But it's really sad that, like, people just don't feel seen. Oh guys, what have you done to me?

Amanda: So let's reframe that as like a celebration, right? We're going back to this celebration thing. I was watching him watch and the joy on his face when he recognized things, it was really powerful. I also want to know a little bit more about what you call your brain fuzzies. If I'm correct, you have ADHD, dyslexia, and dyspraxia. Is that right?

Lizzie: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Amanda: Do you remember when you first noticed what you're calling brain fuzzies?

Lizzie: And so it's probably primary school. I didn't really notice anything. I just knew it was like different. And then I started going to an SEN school that was like a major, like, major, major thing in my life that, like, really helped me because the woman at the SEN school, Michelle, I started to see her when I was 7, and I've seen her all the way until I was 21, and still in uni. And she helped me come up with all these terms and ways to recognize things. And there was a school full of other kids that was the same as me. So, like, it was so much better for my confidence. 

I went to — I did go to mainstream school, and then out of school hours, I'd go to extra support school. So it was in the extra support school where I came up with all this confidence and then all these terms like "brain fuzz" and stuff like that, because although "brain fuzz" could sound like it's a bad thing, sometimes it's great because sometimes brain fuzz is what you need to, like, zone out a bit when you need to. Like when you're really overstimulated and your brain just starts, and then it's kind of like a protection thing as well.

Gretchen: Did you ever describe this to your family and your teachers, and did they understand it, or did you feel understood by them when it came to this?

Lizzie: In primary school, one teacher told me, "Everyone's got light bulbs in their head, but yours just don't work." So that wasn't the best supportive place. And then in one of my secondary schools, they had really good SEN unit that was quite supportive. And then I went to a different sixth form, which had just become a public school from a private school. So that was really interesting because they didn't really recognize students with SEN issues because they were private. So when they'd gone to like a public school, they had to have an SEN unit, so it was one room at the like the highest building because it was like an old house turned into a school. And it was like, it's like being like the hunchback of Notre Dame. And I was like, "Oh my God, these are like actually embarrassed that I'm at their school."

Amanda: In the United States, it used to be the basement, so I hear what you're saying.

Lizzie: Yeah. Like hidden away. Like, the world's been changed by people with neurodiversity. And it's neurodiversity that creates all these massive impacts and change that positively affect our society. So we are not the people that should be shunned into corners or basements or top rooms of houses. Like, we are the people that should be celebrated and invested in time-wise because the difference in the end of the day is going to come from us.

Amanda: I mean, look at all of us right now, right? You're changing the world one amazing-tasting dish at a time, right? We're changing the world by talking to people like you.

Gretchen: Back to the brain fuzzies for one more sec. Were you able to explain this to your family and friends, and how did they react to this and support you?

Lizzie: So my family, my mum's got dyslexia and my little sister has too. So they get a lot of it, and my friends are really uber-supportive. Like, obviously my close friends I like bond with, like, I'm one of them people that attaches themselves to people so once I attach myself, like, they are the most supportive people, like, my friends at uni used to sit up to like 4:00 to read essays that I'd written with, like, one full stop in, like, 5,000 words.

Gretchen: Wow.

Lizzie: They'd go through and correct it all for me. But also, it's really strange because my mum's got it; I've got it; my sister's got it. I'm really open with it. But my little sister hates telling people. She actually went to Uni of Copenhagen to do graphics and code, and because she wouldn't tell any of the tutors or anything that she was dyslexic because she was really ashamed of it, she struggled really bad and then had to drop out after three months.

Amanda: And does she talk about it now?

Lizzie: No, not really. She's a tattoo artist now, and it's just part of a life that she's kind of forgotten about because she doesn't — it doesn't affect her because she doesn't do anything academic.

Amanda: Does she know that you talk about her?

Lizzie: Oh, yeah, yeah. I'm like, "I'm going to use you as, like, the bad example."

Gretchen: Oh God!

Lizzie: It's tough love. It's like, "Learn to accept yourself."

Amanda: I want to, I want to circle back to something about the bake show because there is something that really struck me. At one point, Prue, one of the judges, she said, "But Lizzie is also determined to not be neat. And I want to strangle her because she's a good baker. She's great." And my whole family had this like, "Ugh, that's so familiar" reaction, because it's the kind of thing, you know, kids hear a lot. This "If you just tried harder, you could get this." Had you heard that kind of "try harder" message when you were growing up?

Lizzie: Yeah, yeah, completely. So I think, like, by the time I got to the tent and stuff like that was being said, so I was like, "Do you not think I'm trying me hardest? Like, let's get a grip and move on." But I think for people without neurodiversity, stuff like that just goes over their head. And then for people with neurodiversity, they're trying and trying and trying their hardest all the time and constantly getting told to try harder. It's like a trigger for everyone because everyone's heard it at some point. So I just don't think people — they just don't see it, like when I explained the cake and then Paul was like, "Make sure it's neat." And I was like, "Ace, I'm going to poke your eyes out." You can't, you can't, like, stop and be like, "Paul, that was quite triggering for me because that's what people have said throughout my life."

Amanda: So, Lizzie, ADHD and dyslexia are pretty familiar to our listeners. But I don't know if dyspraxia is, because in the U.S. we often hear it referred to as developmental coordination disorder. It includes difficulty with movement and coordination and getting those skills organized. But I wondered, especially when you said the neat finishes were hard, if dyspraxia plays a role for you in that. Can you talk about what dyspraxia looks like for you?

Lizzie: Yes. So it's coordination a lot as well. Like, I've got no coordination. So you know, when you go to a Zumba class and everyone's going one way, I'm always the person going the other way because I'm, like, I don't know left and right. It's a struggle with hands and feet moving at the same time. I'll walk into things and spatial awareness, massive. So my mum's got this stupid clock on our kitchen wall and, like, I constantly walk into it, and, like, it's coming off the wall because I just, it's right by the door. And I just, I can't maneuver myself around it. It's just, it's like she's put it there to try and kill me and wind me up on a daily basis.

Amanda: It could be your little sister who did that, right? I mean. That spatial awareness thing is such a good description. I really appreciate you describing that.

Lizzie: I can't even catch a ball. If someone throws a ball at me, I'm like, "Aargh!"

Gretchen: Can we turn to baking again for a minute?

Lizzie: Oh, you're not going to bring up cups, are you?

Gretchen: No, I won't bring up cups!

Lizzie: Because I cannot deal with cups.

Gretchen: I know, exactly, right? But I do want to ask you kind of your origin story for baking. So when did you start baking, and what did you like about it when you started?

Lizzie: So I started baking when I was younger, probably in primary school, basically because my mum is awful at baking, and I just wanted sweet stuff. So I got a huge family cookbook and started making like pancakes from that. I think it's probably ADHD why I pick and swap hobbies constantly. So I think cooking was it for a while, and then started skateboarding and stuff like that. But then I'd go back to cooking and my mom would buy me cake pans. And then the next week I'd be, like, on keyboard lessons and then I'd go back to cooking. And she was like, "We're not throwing away the cooking stuff, because it's expensive." So I'd hit a real big phase of cooking when I was, like, 17, and everyone had their 18th birthday parties. So I made everyone's 18th birthday cake. And even, like, I made the prom cake with, like, 500 forget-me-nots on it. It was like a wedding cake. And then went to uni and completely forgot about it and was like, "Yeah, whatevs, I'm just a hard-core uni-er now that just drinks." And then came back from uni. And then when lockdown hit, there was nothing else to do but bake, because there's like six of us in the house. So I was making breads and cakes, and we were all just getting fat and happy together. And we had the paddling pool and we were just sat in the paddling pool, eating cupcakes and drinking. Fantastic.

Amanda: That sounds amazing.

Gretchen: OK, so you're doing a lot of baking during lockdown. How did you go from there to ending up as a contestant on "The Great British Baking Show"?

Lizzie: Yeah, so what happened is every season, me, my friends, and my friends' families all have a bet. So we watch the first episode and you've got to pick from the first episode who's going to win. And then halfway through the season, I've got a friend who's in there on this bet and he's a pastry chef. And like the at the end of the episodes, it normally says, you know, like, apply for next year. And he was like, "You should apply, like, the stuff you've been throwing out, it's like, it's really good. Like, definitely apply." He was like, "You're dead creative, you'll be able to do it." And I'm like, "Oh, stop trying to, like, hype me up or make me head big." And he was like, "No, no, you're really good." And I was thinking, "Yeah, whatevs." 

So I'd kind of filled in the application but not really put much thought into it because I was like, "I'm not going to send it." And then the day before the applications closed, he texted me. And he was like, "Have you applied?" And I was like, "Yeah, yeah." And he was like, "No, no, have you actually applied, because if you don't apply, I am applying for you." And I was like, "Oh, I'll send it." So I never actually got anyone to check the application form, which is massive for me because if I send, like, an email or anything, I normally get someone to check it and make sure, like, the spelling is all right and stuff. And I just sent it. And then suddenly when they rang me up and were like oh yeah, like, it's a whole big, like, rounds of auditions. You're like, "Oh, you're through to the next round." I was just like, oh my God, like, how has this happened? And, like, I felt like even more proud because I'd done it by myself. I'd got no one to check. It was no one else's words. It was all me. And suddenly they were like, "You are good enough, even as you are, you are good enough to be on the show." And then from then on, I just kind of kept on going. And then suddenly they rang me, they were like, "Oh, you're on this year's show." I was just like, "Oh my God, what is going on?"

Gretchen: Oh, that's an amazing story!

Amanda: Had you shared with the "Bake Off" producers ahead of time that you had SEN needs and learning differences?

Lizzie: Yeah, yeah. So I told them because they ask you whether you're worried about anything going into the tent, and my main concern was the technical challenge and not being able to read the words. So they'd set up that, you know, if I couldn't read anything, one of the producers would read it for me.

Amanda: OK.

Lizzie: So they will make exceptions and help you out, put into place if you need it.

Amanda: I have trouble following recipes and I was thinking, what is it like if you have trouble reading anyway and you're under time pressure?

Lizzie: Yeah, I think there was one week, I think it was the jammy dodgers, the recipe said, fluted or fluttered, and I still can't even remember or get it right. And I said that I don't know whether this is fluted or fluttered, and there was tweets about it, like, "How could you be on 'The Great British Bake Off'? You don't even know it's a flutter cutter."

Gretchen: Oh my goodness, that must be so hard to watch it and have these things running through your head and have people react. And oh, just to keep it together.

Lizzie: Loads of people, like, will react, and, like, when I told Matt that I'd watched Harry Potter instead of practicing.

Gretchen: Lizzie, I love cooking and watching TV, but I don't have tons of time, so I didn't watch every episode. Confession. So what is the Harry Potter thing?

Lizzie: So, on Biscuit Week, Matt came up to me and said, "Did you do much practice for this?" I turned around and said, "No, I watched Harry Potter all day." And everyone was like, "What? You spent the day watching Harry Potter instead of baking?" That was mainly because the pressure is so immense that, like Harry Potter is, like, my comfort blanket. It was what was coming out when I was a kid. So, like, it just, like, relaxes me. And I was so overstimulated at this point that I just needed, like, to just zone out to something that I know. Well, that's what that was. And people were coming for me on Twitter. Like, "If you don't care about Bake-Off, why apply? Why would you waste a day watching Harry Potter?" And I was just like, whatever, these people? Like, they just don't genuinely have no thought of like the pressure that's gone into it or anything. They just, they jump on anything.

Amanda: One of the things that struck me as I was watching the baking is how complex the things are. You have to time things. You have to keep track of all the steps. This has to go in the oven. This thing needs melting. This thing has to cool. You have to get all those steps. How did you keep track of all of that? I mean, I can't keep track of that and I don't have ADHD.

Lizzie: So it was, it was really quite funny because I was thinking I was going to be, like, the one in the tent that was, like, you know, like a squirrel on crack constantly. Like, and then they put me next to George or Chigs, who was actually like that. And I'd just be stood there like a sloth because I'd have so much going through my head that I could only focus on one thing at a time. So I'd stand there, just making jam for 15 minutes, and everyone'd be like, "Why is she not moving? Why is she not doing anything?" And I'd be like, watching everyone else, and then I'd be, like, oh yeah, I'd best go off and do something. So I just, I literally done one thing at a time, whereas everyone else is jumping around like loons, doing everything at once. Because I'd practiced like that. 

So week one, that's when I had like the runny mini rolls, because I had accounted for all my, like, "Oh, I'm just going to do this at this point" time. But I never accounted for adding the, like, half an hour in that Matt and Noel is going to stand there and talk to you. So that affected me so much. That's why my caramel was too hot and it all ran out, and I was thinking, "Yes, because they bloody came and distracted me for 25 minutes; I've accounted for me own ADHD time but not for your chatting time."

Gretchen: That is so true. I want to ask you something else related to the skills you need for the show. So I love baking too, but I like to bake things that taste good, not necessarily look great, you know, like cookies and muffins and breads and things like that. And so if I were on that show, I would definitely get shot down for my lack of finesse. So I know that's something that the judges gave you a hard time about. Did you feel like it's something you learned or got better at during the show?

Lizzie: I probably got better at it towards the end because you do refine your skill set constantly while you're on the show. But it's something like, I am more focused on the way things taste and the quantity of it because I work in a car factory. So I make a lot of tray bakes. They don't have to look good, they just have to taste good. And I'm out there to feed as many of my co-workers as possible, like let's just make a big slab of cake and take that in because the lads going to eat it. They're not going to look at it for 10 minutes. They're literally going to be like, "Oh, nice one, cake," cut it and eat it. Why am I going to spend an hour of my life making it look good?

Amanda: I love this attitude. I mean, like, sincerely, I love the — just the confidence and you're just, this ability to just say you are who you are. And I wonder about that in terms of what made you decide to go public with these learning and thinking differences, your SEN needs, during the semifinals? And what kind of response did you get?

Lizzie: So I never thought about it. I've seen some people on Twitter saying, like all, "Oh, she said it, you know, to like, try and stay in the show" and stuff. But I never thought about it as in like, "Oh, I'll use it like that week to get me to the quarter, semifinals" or whatever. I was just like, right, well, I've never seen my SEN issues as anything. 

So I don't consider them like a private thing. I'm happy to talk about them to anyone. It's not bad. I just learn slightly different from what you call a normal person. So I don't see it as something to ever be like, "I'm not going to bring that up," or it just comes out naturally because I'm so used to it. And I think that probably is because I was diagnosed so young that I'm just like, "Yeah, I'm like this because I've got that."

Amanda: That's fantastic. I will tell you that everybody at Understood was like, "Oh my gosh, did you hear about this? Did you see this cake? Did you hear Lizzie talk about having ADHD and dyslexia?" And it was just it was a big deal in our community, so I just want you to know that, to you, it's just who you are, and to us, we're always trying to make sure that people feel comfortable just being who they are. So it was a big deal. It was great.

Lizzie: Yeah, I think I never realized the impact until like afterwards, like the amount of messages that I got was like overwhelming. Like, it took me a week to answer them all. And I'd sit there like, crying, like, every message, like, because they are so personal, like, I just found them, like, really beautiful. I had a school the other day in England, in Kent, and the teacher printed out cakes and then got all the kids to draw what their brains would look like on these cakes. And then asked them if they want to write a message as well. And then the teacher sent them to me. 

So I've got like hundreds of kids' brains on paper, and the messages are, like, absolutely lovely and the fact that, like, they can relate to me and now feel like someone's like them. And the amount of messages that were on them that were like, "Hey, I think I can do this now," or "I think I'll be able to do that." And I'm thinking, like, why did you think you couldn't do it in the start? You can do anything like, who's telling these kids that they can't do stuff because, are they crazy? Why are we doing that to them, like, why are we capping these kids' potential?

Gretchen: I was listening to another interview that you did, and I forget where because I was just kind of going down the Lizzie rabbit hole of information and watching videos, listening to things, and you had mentioned that you were thinking about doing a cookbook for kids with learning differences.

Lizzie: So I would love to do a cookbook. I want to target it towards the neurodiverse community. Obviously, if you're not neurodiverse, you want to buy the book, buy it. It's just going to be a fun book. But I don't want any plain white pages, you know. So people can read off color backgrounds because it's easier. I want loads of sensory stuff in there. But I keep getting told by publishing companies that it's too niche. And I'm like, niche? One in seven people suffers from neurodiversity. Oh, well, not suffers but has neurodiversity. So tell me how that's niche.

Amanda: You know, as an author, I've written five books now, and every time, I feel that struggle of like talking through the, "Well, this is too niche, this is too —," but I think you should keep going. It's such a great idea. I like the idea of, you know, having the sensory components, the visuals, that, you know, it just makes so much sense.

Gretchen: I heard you mention — and if you would explain this, I would love it — having people be able to like preview smells with like a scratch-and-sniff thing, can you explain that?

Lizzie: So, obviously I've been around a lot of kids with autism who have a lot of issues with food, especially, like, smell and texture. So a lot of it is getting used to something. So if you could smell what cinnamon smelt like before you baked with it and got used to that smell over a week and then you decided, OK, I now don't mind the smell. Maybe I'll be able to taste it and add it to a recipe. If we could have like a page full of all different things like that so people can get used to these smells and then feel like they can bake with our ingredients and then find a recipe that they can use it in within the book, like it would open up so many people's lives, because then they'd be able to go to a restaurant and order a cinnamon roll and be like, oh yeah, I'm actually fine with that smell and the taste of that now. I'm completely used to it.

Gretchen: Oh, that's it's amazing idea. 

Amanda: It's brilliant.

Lizzie: I thought it all out. I want all my chapters to be based around like taste, smell, texture. But like you take it to the publishing companies and they're just like "This isn't a cookbook that we do. It's just not normal to us." And I'm just like, "Well, it's normal to me, and I know if it's normal to me, it's normal to hundreds of other people."

Gretchen: I think it's a great idea, and I really hope that you find somebody who is going to bring this project to fruition, because it sounds amazing.

Lizzie: Hopefully, hopefully.

Amanda: So, I think I'm just going to ask you, the last thing on my mind is, how often do you bake and what do you plan to bake next?

Lizzie: So currently I can bake only on the weekends because I'm still working shifts at the car plant. And then my days are like taken up doing fantastic podcasts like this, and all other projects. So I've saved my baking and I've just bought a house that I'm ripping out as well. So I've got that on top of everything else. So my baking normally happens at the weekend. Today I've made lemon, buckwheat, and almond bundt cake and some crinkle cookies.

Gretchen: Oh my god, yum.

Lizzie: And then tomorrow I've got a brickie coming tomorrow who's Polish. I'm going to have a look tonight and see if there's any, like, special Polish desserts I can make him and make him try them. So that's, that's what we do on my weekends now.

Gretchen: I want the lemon bundt cake.

Amanda: Lizzie? Oh my gosh. Thank you so much for joining us today. It was such a pleasure to talk to you. I love that you're doing things you love and that you just are who you are.

Gretchen: This is so much fun. Thank you so much.

Lizzie: Ah, ta. Thanks for having me, guys. Been great.

Amanda: For more of Lizzie's fabulousness, check out season nine of "The Great British Baking Show" on Netflix.

Gretchen: And you can find a full transcript of this conversation at

Amanda: You've been listening to "In It," part of the Understood Podcast Network.

Gretchen: You can listen and subscribe to "In It" wherever you get your podcasts.

Amanda: And if you like what you heard today, please tell somebody about it. 

Gretchen: Share it with the parents you know.

Amanda: Share it with somebody else who might have a child who learns differently and loves to bake.

Gretchen: Or send a link to all the "Great British Baking Show" fans you know.

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Gretchen: Go to to find resources from every episode. That's the letter U, as in Understood, dot O R G, slash in it. 

Amanda: And please share your thoughts. Email us at Or leave us a voice message at 646-616-1213, extension 703. That number again is 646-616-1213, extension 703. And we might just share it on a future episode. 

Gretchen: As a nonprofit and social impact organization, Understood relies on the help of listeners like you to create podcasts like this one to reach and support more people in more places. We have an ambitious mission to shape the world for difference. And we welcome you to join us in achieving our goals. Learn more at

Amanda: "In It" is produced by Julie Subrin. Justin D. Wright mixes the show. Mike Errico wrote our theme music. Laura Key is our editorial director at Understood. Scott Cocchiere is our creative director. And Seth Melnick and Briana Berry are our production directors.

Gretchen: Special thanks this week to Stephanie Powers in Liverpool.

Amanda: And thanks to you for listening and for always being in it with us.


  • Gretchen Vierstra, MA

    is the managing editor at Understood and co-host of the “In It” podcast. She’s a former educator with experience teaching and designing programs in schools, organizations, and online learning spaces.

    • Rachel Bozek

      is co-host of the “In It” podcast and the parent of two kids with ADHD. She has a background in writing and editing content for kids and parents. 

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