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Holly Madison reveals autism diagnosis

‘I always kind of had trouble socially, not recognising social cues,’ former Playboy model says

Olivia Hebert
Los Angeles
Wednesday 13 December 2023 11:39 GMT
Hugh Hefner marries playmate

Holly Madison has revealed that she was diagnosed with autism earlier this year.

On a recent episode of the Talking to Death podcast, the 43-year-old The Girls Next Door alum disclosed how lifelong social challenges ultimately led her to get tested for autism. She admitted that she underwent several evaluation sessions remotely through Zoom before being diagnosed.

She revealed: “I had been suspicious of it for a while. I always kind of had trouble socially, not recognising social cues, not picking up on things the same way other people did. But I just made excuses for it.”

Although, she initially chalked up her social awkwardness and introversion to her rural background, autism spectrum disorders are often characterised by varying challenges with social interaction and communication, according to the World Health Organisation.

“I thought it was because I grew up in Alaska,” she continued. “And then around middle school, we moved to Oregon and I thought: ‘Well, that was just a big social change.’ So I’m just very introverted. That’s always how I wrote it off.”

The former Playmate clarified that, despite the diagnosis, she has high executive functioning autism, which makes the condition’s impact less extreme. She stressed that every person’s experience with autism is different.

“I’m not a spokesperson for everybody,” Madison added. “They call it a spectrum for a reason.”

She called her diagnosis a huge relief after years of being misunderstood by others for behaviours such as difficulty making eye contact and often being lost in her thoughts. She said that people would often think she was rude.

“I like being able to explain that,” the Playboy model continued. “I’ve only recently learned to make eye contact. I’m often in my own thoughts, things like that. So people take that as it’s some sort of like: ‘Oh, d***, you’re not super interested in me. F*** you.’ I’m just not on the same social wavelength. But don’t take it personally.”

She said that her diagnosis has allowed her to give herself grace in social situations, and added that people should be more understanding and patience with others, whether they are more introverted or neurodivergent like her.

“Everybody operates differently,” she said. “Interacting with anybody, just have a little bit of patience because you don’t know what they’re dealing with or what their level of social function is. I think even me, just the way I react with people, I have a little bit more patience now and I don’t take things as personally.”

In 2021, Madison admitted on the Call Her Daddy podcast that she suspected that she wasn’t “neurotypical,” but she hadn’t been diagnosed at the time. At the time, she told host Alex Cooper that she thought she might have Asperger’s syndrome, which was reclassified as an autism spectrum disorder in 2013.

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