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Hi Greg, seems a bit of a strange one. The script doesn’t make any changes to the system if network is available at boot time. So other than ip_forwarding on by default, which is disabled when the autohotspot script runs there is no changes.
I run ssh -v .... on my set up.
In your results the line "debug1: /etc/ssh/ssh_config line 52: Applying options for *" is line 19 for me which refers to Hosts *
Line 52 for me is # RekeyLimit 1G 1h
which doesn’t activate due to the # so maybe something to look into.

But it seems odd that it's fine when when you have disabled the script. Try enabling ip_forwarding but not the autohostpost script and see how ssh works.
Presuming you have no other setup or firewall thats is using IP rules. Otherwise the IP_forward dosn't do anything until the ip-tables are set.

let me know if you have any luck. You could try the the other autohotspot setup and script on your pi, just to see if there may be something else conflicting as the Direct article is more basic.