The singer Susan Boyle has revealed for the first time that she has been diagnosed with Asperger syndrome, a form of autism.
The Scottish mezzo-soprano, who rose to international fame after appearing on Britain’s Got Talent in 2009, hit out at previous claims that she had “brain damage”, instead saying that “it’s been something else”.
Speaking in an interview with the Observer, Ms Boyle said she went to see a specialist in Scotland, who told her that her IQ was above average. She was told she has Asperger’s, and said it was “a relief” to finally receive a diagnosis.
“I have always known that I have had an unfair label put upon me,” she said, explaining that her condition made her different to her peers as a child. “That made me more determined to be where I want to be,” she added.
Asperger’s is defined by the National Autistic Society as having “similarities with autism, [though] people with Asperger syndrome have fewer problems with speaking and are often of average, or above average, intelligence”. It adds that they “may have specific learning difficulties”, but do not usually have the “disabilities associated with autism”.
Ms Boyle has sold an estimated 19 million albums worldwide, and was the first British female artist ever to have a number one album in both the UK and the US charts at the same time.
“Asperger's doesn't define me,” she told the Observer. “It's a condition that I have to live with and work through, but I feel more relaxed about myself. People will have a greater understanding of who I am and why I do the things I do.”
The singer has previously admitted she suffered from depression when she was younger, and said she feels there is less of a stigma surrounding mental illness than there used to be.
Though her work requires a great deal of travel, she still lives in her family home in Blackburn, West Lothian, and agreed she is almost always surrounded by a network of support.
“I am not strong on my own,” she said. “When I have the support of people around me, I am fine.”
Ms Boyle has a cameo role in the festive film A Christmas Candle, and is set to be featured in a Fox Searchlight production about her life story. She is tipped to be played by the Oscar-winning actress Meryl Streep.
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