Susan Boyle, the phenomenally talented singer who rose to international fame after her turn on Britain's Got Talent, made an announcement today that she has been diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome. She told The Guardian:
Some articles have said I have brain damage ... It's been something else. I have always known that I have had an unfair label put upon me. I have Asperger's.
She calls the diagnosis "a relief."
Since her frumpy-to-riches story made her famous, attention centered not only on her surprisingly angelic voice but also her supposed "slowness" and "learning difficulties." These were reportedly caused by "complications at birth."
But anyone who has seen Susan in action can tell she is smart, funny, and, while perhaps a tad quirky, seems very sharp. However, she admits that she doesn't do well on her own and needs a support system around her. Which, given her rise to fame, she now has a lot of, including the man who helped along her success, Simon Cowell.
Asperger's presents differently with different people, but according to the MayoClinic, the disorder is on the autism spectrum and "affects a person's ability to socialize and communicate effectively with others."
Some symptoms of Asperger's include:
- Engaging in long-winded, one-sided conversations and not picking up on whether the listening party wants to disengage from the conversation.
- Lack of eye contact (one that Susan reportedly has); few facial expressions; abnormal gestures.
- Showing an intense obsession with something -- often trivial things like baseball scores.
- Difficulty reading people and not understanding humor. Imagine your world through email!
- A speaking voice that is unusually fast or monotonous.
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Asperger's doesn't define me. 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.
This just makes it even more incredible and brave that Susan got up on that stage in front of thousands -- millions if you count the ones watching on TV and possibly one billion if you count her uber-popular YouTube video -- and sang her heart out. Not to mention her touring and album-making and always meeting tons of fans.
Let this be a lesson that those with Asperger's Syndrome don't necessarily have to be held back by this diagnosis.
Do you know anyone with Asperger's?
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