Susan Boyle: Asperger’s Diagnosis Changed Her Life

By: Pam Wright - April 6, 2014

Back in December when Susan Boyle revealed that she had been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, she never realized how her life would change.

Throughout most of her life, the 52-year-old Scottish singer — who rose to fame on Britain’s Got Talent in 2009 — was considered “brain damaged” by doctors, was called “Susie Simple” as a child and was bullied for her “different” behavior.

“It was the wrong diagnosis when I was a kid,” she said in an interview with the Observer. “I was told I had brain damage. I always knew it was an unfair label. Now I have a clearer understanding of what’s wrong and I feel relieved and a bit more relaxed about myself.”

Boyle said her struggles played a part in her determination to succeed but says some scars linger.

“You don’t fight without some resentment,” she said.

Boyle sought a specialist last year because she could no longer function with the unnamed affliction that left her depressed and moody.

“I went to seek a diagnosis from a Scottish specialist,” she says. “Nobody told me to. I thought I had a more serious illness and couldn’t function properly.”

Initially Boyle was very nervous about seeing the doctor. But the results provided a sense of relief and she learned that she wasn’t the simple-minded girl she believed herself to be.

“I was told my IQ was above average,” she said.

The singer has since learned the best thing she can do for herself is to rely on those around her who will support and help her.

“I am not strong on my own,” she admits. “When I have the support of people around me I am fine. I have a great team.”

She doesn’t believe the Asperger’s diagnosis will interfere with her life. Indeed, she feels it may make it much better.

“It will not make any difference to my life. It’s just a condition that I have to live with and work through,” she said. “I think people will treat me better because they will have a much greater understanding of who I am and why I do the things I do.”

Image via Wikimedia Commons

About the Author

Pam WrightPam Wright is a multimedia journalist for a Kentucky newspaper and WebProNews contract writer. She is Mom to five and Grams to two (and a half). She loves God, her family, photography, traveling, singing, running and scuba diving. Follow Pam on Twitter @pamwrightAMNews and on Facebook @pam.wright.90281943 and at

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  • Terri Rose

    People can be so mean. I’m so glad Susan is happy finding out what was “wrong” with her. I love her voice.

  • Broc Brockway

    Love Susan Boyle! Go get ’em, girl!

  • tirehude

    What a wonderful inspiration she can be to those who suffer from Aspergers. Unfortunately the bullies are still out there.

    • Guest

      Anyone with Aspergers should stay away from her. Recent pictures of her show she’s put on an excessive amount of weight, chews off her fake finger nails and her hair is falling out. No one would want her life. Not a good inspiration for anyone.

      • Peg

        Barney, you are such a stupid individual. My grandson has a very high functioning degree of Asperger’s and does beautifully. He is so smart it scares us all. We treat him just like all the other kids. He has learned what stresses him out and how to handle it. So, why don’t you keep your back country ideas to yourself.

        • Guest

          She looks like she’s on a lot of different meds to get her on that stage and keep her there and that makes YOU stupid for ignoring it.

      • Diane Cherechinsky

        I think people with this condition should surround YOU! Your soooo stupid.How does a being with your stupidity exist?

  • KO

    It is good to finally understand…I hope it brings her more peace and more volition to sing her heart out!

  • agshare

    well, aspergers certainly didn’t affect her VOICE! FANTASTIC voice! and like your new “do”..really looks good on you.

  • Anthony Beck

    More power to you Susan! Keep up being the strong model you are! Keep bringing on the music and living to the fullest your talented, illuminating life IS!

  • Maryann

    Aspergers or William’s Syndrome?

    • SharGL

      Evidently her doctor diagnosed it as Aspergers.

    • Guest

      True, Aspergers have above average language skills and vocabulary skills. Susan Boyle’s skills are at a 6th grade level

      • djgibb

        In most cases but not always. Being shy and not functioning well in public situations is also very common with Aspies. Since you don’t know her personally but have only seen her under the media, you have no idea what her true language and vocabulary skills would be. My son with Aspergers is extremely developed in language skills but nearly shuts down in public.

        • Guest

          She speaks with a cockney accent which is a sign of poor intelligence. I work with a woman who is Aspergers. She’s a biochemist and an intelligent speaker. Their hearing and sight are more sensitive than those who are not. They don’t tolerate loud noises huge crowds strong lights either.

          • Anita Lewis

            What an absolutist little troll type statement. you can no more say all people with Aspergers are such and such than you can about all people with cancer or asthma. My brother has Aspergers and is extremely articulate. No one knows this outside of family though because he shuts down in public which could be three people or a whole crowd. Stop making generalizations, even 6th graders know better.

          • Guest

            People with Aspergers are obsessed with language and vocabulary. Susan Boyle is an insult to Aspies and my co worker.

          • Diana Stone

            now now, barney is just trying to trigger a reaction. He can’t possibly believe that poorly thought out and ignorant statement

          • djgibb

            One coworker makes Barney an expert on
            all the possible characteristics across the entire Autism spectrum.

          • Aissatou Sunjata

            We can only hope, but then who would have thought Forest Gump would still be considered a good movie. Believe Barney has tremendously no sense. Even the Barney figure for children has more sense.

          • Aissatou Sunjata

            Obviously, there are people who don’t know anything about those with Aspergers, yet think themselves authority only because they have access to a computer. For those people they are an insult to those with Aspergers. How can you invent a nickname for someone with a condition???

          • djgibb

            Didn’t invent the nickname and its not an insult

            “People identifying with Asperger syndrome may refer to themselves in casual conversation as Aspies” (a term first used in print by Liane Holliday Willey in 1999).” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asperger_syndrome

            Some of my students with Asperger’s call themselves Aspies. Didn’t make it up. Barney the Asperger’s expert because he has one co-worker that’s a biochemist that has Aspergers copied me in its use..

          • Reese

            Don’t be to awful quick to judge the nickname. I do not have Aspergers, but I do have Lupus and we call ourselves
            Lupies. It is somewhat of a comfort for us because many people who do not have it can be very critical of us. Lupies understand and support each other. It gives a sense of belonging and helps reduce the stigma that comes with having it.
            People diagnosed with Aspbergers started calling themselves Aspies as well as Aspergians.

          • http://www.yahoo.com/ $27056660

            You are an insult to intelligent people.

          • Arlene

            Tell ’em, Anita! My nephew has Aspergers. He, too, shuts down in public, but he doesn’t have any of the particular abilities that Barney describes. What an ignorant jerk! (And I’m saying that with a cockney accent!)

          • Lev Tolstoi

            Your post is a sign of poor intelligence and judgment! Her intelligence is not poor and it was established already here, in the article, that the desease made her seem like that!! The ‘cockney’ accent is just that! Heres a list with people with cockney accent, lets see how you feel about ‘their’ intelligence, you stereotyping boooob:
            Alfie Bass (actor, born in Bethnal Green)
            David Beckham (footballer, born in Leytonstone)
            David Bowie (singer, born in Stepney Green)
            Michal Caine
            Gary Oldham
            Billy Bragg (singer, born in Barking)
            Bernard Bresslaw (actor, born in Stepney)
            George Carey (archbishop, born in Bow)
            Jack Cohen (founder of Tesco supermarket chain, born in Whitechapel)
            Windsor Davies (actor, born in Canning Town)
            Alfred Hitchcock (film director, born in Leytonstone)
            Stanley Holloway (actor, born in Manor Park)
            Angela Lansbury (actress, born in Poplar)
            Vera Lynn (singer, born in East Ham)
            Warren Mitchell (actor, born in West Ham)
            Dudley Moore (actor, born in Dagenham, Essex)
            William Morris (craftsman, born in Walthamstow)
            Alf Ramsey (football manager, born in Dagenham, Essex)
            Maggie Smith (actress, born in Ilford, Essex)
            Terence Stamp (actor, born in Stepney)
            Jack Warner (actor, born in Bow)
            Barbara Windsor (actress, born in Shoreditch)

          • Alicia

            To me Susan Boyle is very well spoken. Her cockney accent, though she is
            Scottish so not technically cockney, is due to where she grew up not do
            to poor intelligence.

          • Guest

            There are Scottish people who speak much better than she does because I’ve heard them and have worked with them. Susan Boyle is cockney

          • Marsha McFadden

            Cockney is not Scottish, you ignorant jack***.

            You yourself are an embarrassment to any person with intelligence, which would include Susan Boyle, who no doubt has an IQ far higher than yours.

          • Guest

            Susan Boyle speaks with a cockney accent which means its difficult to understand what she’s saying. Poor intelligence. If she is Aspergers she would be obsessed with language and much improve in her language skills and not speak like a 5 th grader either.

          • Diana Stone

            Barney , you need to take an English class, your writing is awful, I take it you don’t really like language or you would be more thoughtful and choose your words more wisely

          • James France

            It occurs to me that after your rants you are in serious need of some attention. Why you would endeavor to use this as a platform to spew negativity and hurtful dialog needs to be addressed by some serious looking into a mirror.

          • Guest

            Actually your need to give me so much attention makes me wonder what your obsession with Susan Boyle is all about. Can you really be that shallow?

          • Aissatou Sunjata

            Funny, thinking why are you posting so stupid. You are not cockney, you don’t have any illness which should affect you, but clearly, you go undiagnosed.

          • CuriouslyM

            barney, you’re very arrogant. Why are you so obsessed with this conversation? You’re just very rude and maybe you should just go away .

          • djgibb

            Are you a freaking Aspergers expert because your work with someone with the syndrome? Not only do I have a son with Aspergers but I’m a special education teacher that has Asperger’s students.

            Your over generalizations show that you don’t know what you are talking about!

            Also cockeny accent is very specific to lower class areas of London and has nothing to do with Scots.

          • Guest

            ALL Aspergers have superior language skills and ALL Aspergers are high intelligence like my co worker who is a bio chemist

          • djgibb

            NOT TRUE! Most Aspegers have superior langauge skills but not all. Most Aspergers are highly intelliegent but not all. Almost all Aspergers struggle with social situations and often come off of lacking verbal and intellectual skills when not around people they trust or in public situations..

          • beyondliberal

            Not true at all. Aspies vary in their language ability (with the exception of “social” language, which is, by definition, poor) and intelligence just as much as people in the general population.
            As for an accent, EVERYONE on the planet has one. The one Susan Boyle speaks is Lowland Scot, which isn’t even close to cockney. How do I know these things? I’m a speech pathologist.

          • sfwm.son

            Provide proof in the form of links to research, please Barney? we all want to learn.

          • sfwm.son

            Barney, please provide us with links to your information that people with this condition are obsessed with language. I’m sure we will all wait here for you. And no, I will not go look it up myself, I doubt it exists.

          • Reese

            Good luck having that request honored. I have a feeling you are beating a dead horse. :)

          • Reese

            Have you stopped to think that Susan Boyle has just been diagnosed with this. She doesn’t have the advantage of years of cognitive behavior, speech and language therapy that someone diagnosed early in life have had. People with Aspergers do become over focused & obsessed on a specific thing, but it is not always language. Then you have to consider any underlying conditions they may have. My daughter is a therapist & this is her specialty.

          • Guest

            Lots of people her age weren’t diagnosed when they were younger. She doesn’t have a speech disability. She read books. Her language skills could have improved just by reading books. A therapist will tell you what you want to hear because that’s their job. EVERYTHING about her is the opposite of Aspergers in every way. I don’t know what she is trying to prove or any of you.

          • Reese

            “Lots of people her age weren’t diagnosed when they were younger” Thank you for pointing that out to me because I really thought that Susan Boyle was the only one that was not diagnosed as a child. It is not the job of a therapist to tell people what they want to hear, that would not be ethical.
            I take it you have spent a whole lot of time with Susan since you know everything there is to know about her….. I am not trying to prove anything, I have no need to.

          • Diana Stone

            are you serious? your kidding right? of course you are, cockney accent has nothing what so ever to do with intelligence. lord.

          • Guest

            It certainly does. She doesn’t sound posh which is intelligence.

          • Aissatou Sunjata

            Neither do you read intelligent, or having posh, and you still keep confirming it with each post!

          • djgibb

            A Scot with a cockney accent?? That’s amazing! Do you have any idea where a cockney accent originates?

          • shirley bootlip

            I always thought it was a low class accent from a part of London.

          • djgibb

            You are correct.

          • Aissatou Sunjata

            “I was told my IQ was above average,” she said. A direct quote, so it is you who has poor intelligence, beginning with the inability to read.

          • Peg

            There goes the “brain” Barney talking like he knows so much. You cannot generalize all what one person does and say everyone is that way. Even tho it is sometimes hard for JH to act properly in public, he recently stood up to a girl in his class that was acting out some dirty actions with a banana, and JH told her to stop doing that as it was rude and not acceptable. He told her twice and she said she would slap him and he told her to go ahead. She did and guess who got suspended. The other kids were so thrilled he stood up to her. It was only his 3rd day in this class as he had just moved there. He is 11. He owes a lot of his “learned skills” to Neurofeedback.

    • Linda Stewart-Riley

      I read so many peoples comments, and many sound like they are just talking about bull. But, I had never heard of this before, so I checked it out. I can not say that she may have this problem, but interesting to learn about. I do like her voice, she does really really sing good.

      • djgibb

        You probably know more about Asperger’s Syndrome than Barney with a cursury glance on the internet.

  • Guest

    Drugs changed her life

    • Lev Tolstoi

      you’re a morrrron!

      • Guest

        You’re angry. Don’t get so angry. It’s only my observation. It won’t change anything.

        • sfwm.son

          However, your earlier comments could lead people to believe your words about intelligence. Please get those links, won’t you?

          • Guest

            The topic is Aspergers not autism. Maybe Susan has the intelligence to be crafty.

          • Reese

            You mean with your vast knowledge that you aren’t aware that Aspbergers is one of several types of Autism? I don’t know where you got your education on this subject, but I sure hope you didn’t pay money for it. If you did, you might want to think about asking for a refund.

  • djgibb

    I’m glad she now understands why she is exceptional and different.

  • teacookies

    I really hope she has people and family who will watch out for her and not take advantage of her success and money. She has a beautiful gift to share. Good luck to you, Susan.

  • Brady Bell

    Previously I read replies from people who were familiar with Aspergers (or even had it themselves) who were sure that was what she had. Maybe this diagnosis will help other people too.

  • bpollen8

    It is so wonderful that she was blessed with that voice and these wonderful things have happened to her late in life, esp. considering the crosses she has had to bear. It’s great when good things happen to good people. She deserves it.

  • Mikey 444

    I have a friend of mine who’s a brilliant stand up comic. She was on Oprah, etc., and has had a great career….and she’s deaf. When she was a kid ion Ohio they didn’t know that she was deaf and put her in an institution for the insane.//where she stayed for several years ’till she got in some sort of accident. The doctor checked her out and told her that she was normal…just deaf. Completely changed her life.

  • Patty

    I cannot believe some of you people who are so judgmental… Did your parents fail to teach you any respect for other peoples feelings? Are you so puffed up that you don’t know when to shut your mouth and be kind??!! What point are you making other than to make you look small and ignorant!! She has something that she can’t go back and change from her birth!! If you can’t say something uplifting than shut the hell up!!

    • Guest

      Then she should leave her personal business out of the news and just sing. She puts it all out there.

      • mayzer

        Barney where are you from? Because it’s certainly NOT Britain because if you were British you would immediately know that she has a VERY pronounced SCOTTISH accent which as far from a cockney accent as a new York Jewish accent is from a deep southern accent and that as NOTHING to do with intelligence you nutcase!!

        • Guest

          Really? Susan’s brother Jerry has a very clear accent and superior language skills compared to his sister Susan and they live in the same area. Are you trying to pull a fast one on me?

          • karand

            Oh isn’t that the brother who begs for money any chance he gets. The one who threatened to commit suicide if Susan didn’t give him money. Superior begging skills is more like it.

          • Guest

            Wasn’t that another one of her lies? Aspergers aren’t liars either.

          • sfwm.son

            sigh.

      • Patty Holland Quincey

        Guest used to be called Barney… not only is he an idiot who loves stirring up things … he is a coward who leaves when the heat gets too much for him….Guest Barney you did a great job of proving you truly are just looking for attention … you are pitiful!!

  • Freeman

    great story

  • Kathy J

    Wonderful! I love Susan’s voice and I am so glad she now knows that there is nothing wrong with her that will stop her from succeeding!

  • Hiya

    “When I have the support of people around me I am fine. This is true for everyone. Thanks Susan for the great music and for keeping it “real.”

  • pattycakes

    We love you, Susan!!! Whatever!! XXX

  • Hemingway2

    love you susan. You have a beautiful voice and a beautiful spirit and I pray this will bring you much peace realizing there is a reason for your difference. I felt different too and when I found out I was bipolar at least it had a name and there was a reason for it.

  • Danielle

    Barney has a personal issue with Susan and this is not the place to vent it. How can anyone attack this woman of inspiration and resilience who has success against all odds? I don’t care what her mental or physical health issues are, other than wishing her the best in both cases. She is amazing on so many levels and pulled herself up on stage for all the world the scrutinize and shred, so that she could illustrate her incredible talent. That takes enormous courage for anyone, and she knew that bullies would be slamming her. Barney, you are a jealous, mean, cruel, negative, evil coward. Go away and let us rejoice in the light, courage, love, resilience, hope, and powerful inspiration Susan has brought into the lives of millions.

    • Guest

      Go and rejoice but pardon me if I chose not to believe it. Thank you.

  • Danielle

    The blond female judge on the panel with Simon and Pierce in Susan’s initial performance was the ONLY one to be kind and gracious BEFORE Susan began to sing. Women in the audience were making faces too… How CRUEL! This was entirely based upon Susan’s physical appearance! What a shallow, pathetic world we live in (No, I am not ugly and have had more attention from men throughout my marriage than I desired). Where is the beauty within people, that they cannot have compassion, kindness and an open mind? The lesson may be that bullies and gossiping, cruel children grow up to be obnoxious adults. Susan can sing and make millions more than all the evil people that didn’t hold out a hand of kindness no matter what came out of her mouth. God bless you Susan and congratulations on your success.

    • Guest

      Are you for real? That’s quite the performance Danielle.

  • Terry

    People can be mean and very ignorant. We cannot let them interfere with the much needed recognition and treatment of these disorders which affect millions around the world. I am happy that Susan sought help and is learning how to deal with Asperger’s. It isn’t easy to deal with, especially having gone undiagnosed for so long, but she is trying to cope. Good for her. Everyone should be wishing her well and donating to organizations fighting for desperately needed research and support for Autism and Autism spectrum disorders.

    • Guest

      I’m waiting for Susan to make her donation which she hasn’t done yet