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Why I Identify with Susan Boyle as a late-in-life Diagnosed Autistic Adult

She’s like the sister I always wished I had

Shutterstock file photo

When Susan Boyle first took to the stage on “Britain’s Got Talent,” I realized she was on the autism spectrum. Her “quirky” ways had everyone laughing at her until the jaw-dropping moment she began singing “I Dreamed a Dream.” She stunned the world with her spectacular voice. Suddenly everyone forgot her little wiggle and cheeky comments to Simon Cowell. Susan became an instant sensation. But there was one thing about herself that she didn’t officially even yet know — the very thing that would help explain her entire life right up to that very moment when she stepped into the spotlight and her life turned magical.

Aside from her incredible voice, I became fascinated with her because I recognized she was autistic. I wondered if she had been diagnosed. Weeks later after she won second place, her autobiography came out The Woman I Was Born To Be — My Story. As I read her life story, I came to feel like she was the sister I never had but always wished I had. I can recall feeling her pain when reading about getting bullied, as I have walked in her shoes. We were alike in so many ways, as two females, the same age, experiencing life with Asperger’s.

Growing up, her mom was her only and best friend. Her singing was her special interest, and she regularly sang in a little pub not far from her home in a tiny village in Scotland. She described the tragic day when her mom died and how she survived it. It mirrored what I had gone through when my mom died, as I, too, had devoted my life to my mom and caring for her until she died. She described her mom’s wishes that she pursue her singing career. At that time, Susan had a cat named Pebbles, who gave her incredible emotional support. She talked about wanting to have a real friend who would understand her. I was so deeply moved by her story, as I felt that Susan and I could be best friends for life. I don’t sing, but everything else about Susan was just like me, all her Asperger traits.

I remember the day I saw on the news that Susan Boyle just got diagnosed with Asperger’s! She was diagnosed in 2012, and made the public announcement in December 2013. I was beside myself! I was bursting with joy for her to finally learn why she is the wonderful way she is. I remember being horrified when I read in her book that in her younger days people called her “simple Susan” just because she was different. Susan is a perfect example of why no one should ever judge a book by its cover. When Susan walked onto that stage of Britain’s Got Talent, the crowd snickered at her initial appearance and demeanour. Then came the stark contrast between the audience’s low expectations and the quality of her singing. In an interview with The Washington Post, Boyle stated

“Modern society is too quick to judge people on their appearances,” she said. “There is not much you can do about it; it is the way they think; it is the way they are. But maybe this could teach them a lesson, or set an example.”

A fine lesson it was indeed!

She is the one person I so hope to meet in person one day. I would give her a big hug and tell her she’s my sister for life. I wonder how she is doing. I felt so sad when I learned that she lost Pebbles, as I knew she loved that cat very much. Last I heard, she got another cat, a ginger cat named Tessie.

From Susan’s official website it says, ‘Once known as the painfully shy, broke and under-confident woman who dreamed the dream. That is no longer Susan Boyle. “I don’t dream the dream any more,” she says, “Because I am living it.”’

As I well know, Susan still must live with her Asperger’s each and every day. It’s never easy for anyone. One of the great things is because Susan is world famous, she helps people around the world better understand what Asperger’s is all about, providing a better understanding to others. I will admit to feeling annoyed when I see a statement in a tabloid like “odd duck to Diva.” I know those comments are made because she’s different, and because those kinds of things are said about me. No, I’m not famous, but I am an ‘odd duck!’ What I do wonder about Susan, is does she ever wish she had another female with Asperger’s, her own age, to talk to, and share her inner self to. Aside from all the glitz and glamour of her career, at the end of the day she returns home with her own true self, that Asperger self.

I have read that she’s interested in fostering a child, and that she loves children. I hope she gets that dream to come true, which I’m sure she will. She will make an incredible mom.

I recall reading that Susan got diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes back in 2013. The article stated she began taking Metformin. I wonder how she’s doing with her diabetes these days! See, yet another thing we have in common! I was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes in 2017. It wasn’t until May 2019 when I started on a plant-based diet that I reversed my diabetes. I wish I could share my journey with Susan, just in case she doesn’t know about the power of a plant-based lifestyle! I would love for her to read my book A Food Revolution: How the Plant-Based Lifestyle Can Win the Global War on Diabetes, Obesity, and Heart Disease.

Susan, in case you read this, I’d be over the moon to hear from you!

Anita Lesko

Diagnosed at age 50 with Asperger’s. Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist for over 32 years. Columbia University graduate 1988 with a Master of Science in Nurse Anesthesia. Award-winning author, United Nations Guest Speaker. National Keynote Speaker. Plant-Based Success Story. Consultant, Coaching, Wellness Program Developer. Latest book A FOOD REVOLUTION: How the Plant-Based Lifestyle Can Win the Global War on Diabetes, Obesity, Heart Disease and Other Diseases.

Why I Identify with Susan Boyle as a late-in-life Diagnosed Autistic Adult was originally published in ILLUMINATION on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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