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Susan Boyle reveals Asperger diagnosis

WebMD UK Health News
Medically Reviewed by Dr Sheena Meredith

9th December 2013 – The singer Susan Boyle has revealed she has Asperger syndrome and says the diagnosis has given her a sense of relief.

Asperger syndrome is a form of autism, which is a lifelong disability that affects how a person makes sense of the world, processes information and relates to other people.

The National Autistic Society says the revelation could improve the nation's understanding of the condition.

Misdiagnosis at birth

Susan Boyle, who shot to fame on Britain's Got Talent in 2009, to become one of the country's top selling female artists, received the diagnosis a year ago but kept it secret until now. The 52 year old told The Observer that a misdiagnosis at birth left her carrying the label ' brain damaged'.

"It was the wrong diagnosis when I was a kid," she told the paper. "I was told I had brain damage. I always knew it was an unfair label. Now I have a clearer understanding of what's wrong and I feel relieved and a bit more relaxed about myself."

Boyle was called 'Susie Simple' when she was growing up in her home town of Blackburn, West Lothian.


"I thought I had a more serious illness and couldn't function properly," says Boyle. However, she reveals in her interview that a series of tests showed her intelligence levels were not connected with her condition: "I was told my IQ was above average."

Asperger syndrome is sometimes referred to as a 'high functioning' form of autism because those with the condition are often of average, or above average, intelligence. People with Asperger syndrome do not usually have the accompanying learning difficulties associated with autism. However, those with Asperger's often experience:

  • Difficulty with social communication: specifically with understanding and interpreting gestures, facial expressions or tone of voice
  • Difficulty with social interaction: they may struggle to maintain friendships and behave in what may seem to be an inappropriate manner
  • Difficulty with social imagination: finding it hard to understand what other people are thinking or predicting the outcome of situations

People with Asperger syndrome may also rely on routines, have sensory difficulties, and enjoy special interests that are pursued rigidly and repetitively.

Boyle, who has recently released an album, 'Home for Christmas', has experienced depression, anxiety and mood swings throughout her life.

Despite selling 20 million records worldwide, until earlier this year she had never been able to perform a live solo tour, and her preparations for a series of UK-wide concerts in 2014 are the subject of an ITV documentary, 'There's something about Susan', to be broadcast on Thursday 12th December at 9pm.

Asperger diagnosis: 'crucial milestone'

Mark Lever, chief executive of The National Autistic Society says in a statement: "Diagnosis can be a critical milestone for people with the condition, which, as Susan said, can be a relief, providing an explanation for years of feeling 'different'. It can also offer a gateway to identifying appropriate support, and without it many people may find it difficult to access the help they need.

"By revealing her diagnosis Susan has played an important role in bringing the issue of autism to the nation's attention. Autism can have a profound and sometimes devastating effect on individuals and families, but public understanding and support can make a huge difference."

Reviewed on December 09, 2013

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