Daryl Hannah Reveals Autism Diagnosis That She's Tried to Hide Her Whole Life

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Daryl HannahHere's some surprising news coming out of Hollywood today: Daryl Hannah revealed she was diagnosed with autism as a child. She also had struggles with "debilitating shyness" as a result of the disorder. Kind of unexpected, right?

Known for her iconic roles in Kill Bill: Volume 1 & 2, Splash, Blade Runner, and Wall Street, she said that she's been able to stay under the radar when it comes to her diagnosis and quietly manage her symptoms. Considering no one has any kind of privacy in Hollywood anymore, the fact she has kept this a secret so long is quite a feat.

Also once making headlines for dating John Kennedy Jr., she admitted to People magazine, "I’ve never been comfortable being the center of attention." You can see the interview in Friday's issue, when she also said, "It’s always freaked me out."

At times that she'd become so shy, she'd rock back and forth constantly. As a teenager, when she started to become famous, she had to hide her autism diagnosis in her professional life and couldn't do promotional appearances or talk shows. She said it was "not because I was above it, but because I was terrified."

Wow, what a brave thing to finally admit after all these years! Especially for someone who confesses that she is petrified of the spotlight. She went on to say, "I’m a grown up now. I’ve learned a couple of things that really would’ve made my life easier if I’d known them 20 years ago .... I wasted so much time scared, self-conscious, and insecure."

It's rather inspiring that woman who enjoyed so much success in Hollywood was once diagnosed with autism and couldn't even go around promoting her own work as a result, which is such a major factor when it comes to a movie's success nowadays. The 52-year-old beauty should also serve as an example that people who are diagnosed with autism or fighting chronic shyness can go on to have amazing careers and fulfilling lives. Good for her for coming out with her autism and opening up about how she was able to overcome her symptoms while still being able to let her guard down and perform in front of a camera and crew.

Now she's enjoying life with her boyfriend of three years, a pig they rescued name Molly, and a farm she's living in near LA. She's also an environmental activist who's been arrested a couple times during protests. Regardless, she's a true inspiration for anyone with autism or battling shyness, and we wish her even more continued success in both her private and public lives.

Are you surprised to hear that Daryl Hannah was diagnosed with autism?


Image via World Travel & Tourism Council/Flickr

autism, celebrity, celebs, interviews, movies


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Bianca Long

I already knew that she had autism so i guess she didnt guard that secret as well as she thought.

Donna Reed

Autism is not the same thing as shyness. It's truly a neurological disorder that has significant limitations for its sufferers. There are degrees, such as Aspergers, but to say she is autistic sounds more like a misdiagnosis than anything else. There are many co-morbid symptoms of autism, doesn't mean she has autism...and it's not something you can "hide". You can fake shyness, or act like your not, but you can't "hid' from autism.

Pamela Ellison

My son has Aspergers and he sure cant fake it or hide it when I ask him to. Must be nice to turn it off like a switch.

Elissa Dykstra

A little disappointed by the comments. I agree that autism goes beyond shyness - it's a developmental disability. That being said, I wouldn't assume a misdiagnosis. People with autism can have a range of ability to deal with things. Many would not be able to be an actress (just as many people without autism wouldn't) but there are others who might be able to. Some aspects of autism may actually have been helpful for Ms. Hannah.

As for the idea of being able to "fake it" or "hide it" when asked, I can't help but cringe at that statement. Would we ask someone to fake being able to walk if they needed a wheelchair? Would we ask them fake using both hands if they'd been born with only one? Shaming people for having any disability, including autism, is wrong. I take my hat off to Daryl Hannah for speaking about this publicly, but I long for the day when it wouldn't have been something she had to try to hide in the first place.

Lou-Ann Hooper

It is amazing that she was able to keep it under control for so long. Most people with Autism can't do this. It does however give me hope that my children can grow up to have promising careers and not let their Autism define who they are.


Tracy Watters Resanowitch

I am not so sure this was autism. I dont know of one person who can control their autism. humm

Dawn Richards Chappell

She's an actress! It probably wasn't so much that she was "hiding" it as that she was "acting" like someone without autism. I worked with high-functioning kids with Asperger's and we had them participate in drama to practice socially appropriate behavior...they became able to "act" neurotypical for short bursts, but they didn't become not-autistic.  

nonmember avatar Tara Petersen

I think that doubters of an autism diagnosis need to meet some autistic children and adults and view some speeches by Temple Grandin.

Penny Lane Fox

I already knew this. In fact my dog is named Hannah after her because my daughter has autism. I also have a dog named Echo after echolalia and a cat named Reid after Spencer Reid, the character on Criminal Minds that has Asperger's. In the past we had a cat named Newton because Isaac Newton was supposedly on the spectrum and a cat named Puzzles because the autism symbol is puzzle pieces. I know, no one cares but long way to say this is so old news. :)

nonmember avatar Jen

She probably has autism that is associated with Fragile X syndrome as she displays the physical characteristics. What she has had to overcome and/or deal with on a daily basis, I am sure, is no easy feat. Bless her for all of her hard work on the part of Autism!

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