It’s typical of the symptoms of Asperger’s Syndrome to reveal themselves early on in a child’s life. In the U.K. for example, most cases are diagnosed as early as five years of age. For Boyle however, things were quite different. Kids bullied Susan over her “lack of oxygen” or “brain damage” that she’d been born with, which made her childhood really hard. Imagine that piled up on the social anxiety that comes with growing up feeling excluded, and even going through puberty. Not a great start. But it makes for a sweeter story looking back!
Boyle once told The Guardian in an interview, “It was the wrong diagnosis when I was a kid. 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.” At least there were some positives out of it all – and with her success, Boyle got the attention she deserved and someone to actually look into how she was. Not to get all soppy and “love yourself” on you all, but your mental health is so important.
It Wasn’t Easy Growing Up
The youngest of five children, Susan Boyle was born in Blackburn, Scotland. Her mother was an astonishing 45 years old when she gave birth to her, and this late age of giving birth was the reason given for Susan’s “differences.” Early on, her parents noticed that young Susan struggled with learning and well, learned a little differently to her siblings and classmates. Back in 1961, we weren’t quite as advanced with medical research or diagnoses, so her family told Susan that the reason she had some difficulty learning was due to the fact that she had been deprived of oxygen at birth. Yeah, pretty ridiculous.
It wasn’t until she was well over 40 that Susan was given the news that she had been, in fact, misdiagnosed, and actually had Asperger’s Syndrome. Boyle told The Telegraph, “I like to see myself as someone with a problem, but one I can solve. It is definitely getting better.” Gee, we’re glad she’s so positive about it – if it were us we’d be pretty mad at our parents and the doctors for that type of misdiagnosis! More power to you, Susan! So just how old was Susan when she was properly diagnosed?
High IQ, But Emotional IQ Suffers
Have you ever had a friend, or known someone who was brilliant, but struggled socially? Like the Brainiac kid in your class who aced every quiz but ate their lunch alone? Yeah, so Susan Boyle could relate. Boyle, who has Asperger’s Syndrome, is one of those on the spectrum who is actually high-functioning. In spite of her above-average IQ, Boyle struggles with how others are feeling and has difficulty in conveying her own emotions and feelings. The social anxieties which are commonly associated or caused by Asperger’s can lead to miscommunication and challenges in developing meaningful relationships.
In an interview with The Guardian, Susan admitted to suffering from mood swings, severe depression, and even emotional outbursts. For someone with Asperger’s, these behaviors aren’t at all uncommon. But for Boyle, who lived her life in the dark, and couldn’t explain why she felt (or didn’t feel!) a certain way about things, this is all a positive step. Boyle told The Guardian that being able to even identify these symptoms is a “relief.” For Susan, it seemed that having an emotional breakdown one day helped to end a long-standing family feud.
When You’re Down, Family is There
Being a part of a family of five, there’s bound to be some sibling rivalry, right?! Susan, however, is the youngest of the five, so we’re sure she got a little more attention! But having such a large family can also mean that some disagreements can arise with different personalities. Such is the case with Susan and her older brother, Gerry. The pair had a few disagreements which led to fighting and drawn-out battles, which eventually ended up in them not talking to one another at all. By the time Susan became an overnight sensation, the two had cut each other out of their lives. You know how journalists are! The tabloids had a field day over in the U.K., speculating about their rocky family ties. Once the rumors started circling, there was some grief for Susan, to say the very least.
For two long years, the siblings refused to make contact with one another. But then, sometime in June 2016, Susan reached out to her brother in a time of great need. In the middle of Heathrow Airport, a down and out Susan called her brother after having a mini-meltdown. In an interview, Gerry told Mirror, “I’d never heard her sound so down on the phone. I was really concerned. She didn’t sound like she was in a good place. We hadn’t spoken for two and a half years but when all is said and done, I am her brother. I realized how sad it was that we didn’t speak– and that it shouldn’t be that way.” So, it seems that despite all the fighting and feuding, her brother did the right thing to help his little sister out! Interested in what the big feud was all about? Read on to find out what caused such a rift in the Boyle family!
Losing Her Parents Before Success Came
For many years, Susan looked after her parents, and never really had any time to herself, let alone time to pursue her passion. She never actually told her parents that she wanted to become a singer for a living! On the side, her father knew about her talent, and always encouraged and supported her dream. Sadly, her Dad passed in 1999, and from that point on, Susan cared for her aging mother until 2007, who passed at the ripe old age of 91.
Boyle, who had a lot more free time, and really, nothing to lose, plucked up the courage to audition for Britain’s Got Talent in 2009. Can you believe that was 10 years ago? Scary! She told The Guardian, “I felt a part of me had died with [my mother] …. I so wanted to make her proud, so I found the strength to apply for Britain’s Got Talent and I truly believe that she was the angel on my shoulder that day.” And what an audition it was: sure, you may cringe a little at her confidence considering how frumpy she looked (despite not even being 50 at the time!), but once she opened her mouth, all the judges and fans in the audience were absolutely gobsmacked. Literally. Watching her audition still gives us chills.