Our series on females with autism would hardly be complete without taking a look at the famous women who have recently announced their personal struggles with autism and Asperger’s Syndrome. Susan Boyle, Daryl Hannah, Miss Montana Alexis Wineman, and reality star Heather Kuzmich from America’s Next Top Model have all brought awareness to the unique challenges faced by women with the diagnosis.
Susan Boyle, who became an internationally known singer after an appearance on “Britain’s Got Talent” in 2009, revealed her diagnosis this week, saying it was a relief. She spoke of her struggles growing up, being called names like “Susie Simple,” and never understanding why things that seemed so easy for others were so difficult for her. She describes how she,
“got laughed at because people didn’t think I’d do well. . . It’s a condition that I have to live with and work through, but I feel more relaxed about myself.”
She hopes that,
“People will have a greater understanding of who I am and why I do the things I do.”
Actress Daryl Hannah is an American movie star who rose to fame in the 1980s in movies like Splash and Wall Street. She recently admitted publicly via People, that she was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome as a child. She gained fame as an actress, but also earned a reputation as difficult, due to her intense dislike of interviews and appearances that go along with promoting a movie. There was less awareness of autism and Asperger’s Syndrome at that time, and the pressure eventually led the once A-list actress to abandon Hollywood.
Stories like these bring awareness to the struggles that many people deal with on a daily basis. Many individuals on the autism spectrum find comfort in the knowledge that others are dealing with similar challenges, and find hope in the fact that others have found success in spite of their difficulties. Women, especially, who are not diagnosed as often as males, are finding inspiration in stories like these.
Amanda Harrington, whose blog is titled Crazy Girl in an Aspie World, says, ”
When I first heard that Susan Boyle had been diagnosed with Asperger’s, I had to stop and remember that this was something new, that she hadn’t been an aspie before. To me, she has always been ‘one of us’, in her way of speaking and presenting herself, her difficulties with the world, and her unique talent.. . Being an adult aspie can be a very lonely, isolating experience, especially as a woman. Women in general are good at holding things together; they manage their lives and the lives of their families, they do jobs, school runs, care for relatives, and make everything all right in time for tea.”
She goes on to say,
“What adults with Asperger’s need, above all things, is just what Susan says she needs – other people to be kinder and more understanding, so that we feel safe to break down and then be picked up again.”