Susan Boyle Discloses She Has Asperger's Syndrome

Eileen Bailey Health Guide
  • Susan Boyle, who became a singing sensation in 2009, announced that she was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome. The diagnosis came after years of being told she had “brain damage.” During her school years she was also diagnosed with learning disabilities and nicknamed by her classmates as “Simple Susie.” She was bullied during her school years. According to, “she graduated with few academic qualifications.” [1] About a year ago, she went to see a specialist and found out her IQ was above average and that she has Asperger’s syndrome.

    Throughout her life, Susan looked to music for comfort and enjoyment. Both her parents were musical - her father sang and her mother sang and played the piano. Growing up in a small town, however, Susan didn’t have many opportunities to nurture her musical talent. She did perform in school performances from the age of 12. Her parents and her teachers encouraged her to perform.

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    As an adult, Susan auditioned for talent show, sang at church and at local karaoke nights in the local pub. Susan sang because she loved to sing and dreamt of being a famous singer. Between 1997 and 2007, she went through a number of personal tragedies. In 1997, her father passed away and Susan took over the care of her mother. In 2000, her sister died and in 2007 her mother died. Susan took these deaths hard. After her father and sister passed away, she used music as a source of comfort but after her mother passed away she stopped singing for almost two years.

    It was her mother, however, that had always encouraged and supported Susan’s singing. Together they would watch “Britain’s Got Talent” and her mother encouraged her to try out. In 2008, her singing coach encouraged her to audition and she did so, as a final tribute to her mother.

    Susan’s audition was heard around the world. Her humble appearance was a stark contrast to the beautiful singing voice. She stunned the judges as well as the audience. Even though she did not win the show, the clip of her song became a sensation on YouTube. Her singing career took off and she became the first British female artist to have a number one album in Britain and the U.S. simultaneously. She has sold over 14 million albums to date. She attributes her success to her mother, saying, “She has had a word with someone upstairs, because I wouldn’t have had this otherwise.” [2]

    Susan has always believed that the label of “brain damage” is unfair and knew there was something else going on. She decided to seek help and went to a specialist, who diagnosed her with Asperger’s syndrome. When talking about it, she stated, “I never know if people are genuine. I would say I have relationship difficulties, communicative difficulties, which lead to a lot of frustration. If people were a bit more patient, that would help.” [3]

    She is determined, however, to reach her goals and keep singing. “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.” [4]

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    [1] “Susan Boyle - Biography” 2013, Staff Writer,

    [2] [3] [4] “Susan Boyle: ‘I Have Asperger’s’ “ 2013, Dec. 8, Business Insider

    “Susan Boyle Tells British Paper She Has Asperger’s,” 2013, Dec. 9, Steve Almasy, CNN

Published On: December 12, 2013