David Byrne health: Singer thinks he has autism – ‘very uncomfortable’

Paddy and Christine McGuinness discusses their children's autism

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Despite appearing confident in the media time and time again, like with his recent comments over the controversy surrounding the Joe Rogan podcast, Byrne says he used to struggle with socialising in the past–something he attributed to Asperger’s syndrome recently, now known as autism spectrum disorder, although he was never formally diagnosed.

“After some friends had told me about the kind of spectrum of Aspergers and autism and I thought ‘oh yeah I can see that’,” he told NPR’s Here & Now co-host Robin Young while promoting his theatre show American Utopia.

Asperger’s syndrome is part of a brain development condition called autism spectrum disorder.

People with the condition are likely to share certain difficulties such as socialising and may become focused on rules and routines, although the effect of these challenges varies from person to person, according to the National Autistic society.

He says his suspected autism posed a challenge for him in some situations, but he argued that “a little bit isn’t the worst thing in the world.”

“Whatever we are, we don’t know how to be another way… and you change over the years and become someone different than you were before.

“But at the earlier point that’s who you are… you can’t say oh I’m unhappy I wish I was more like this happy gregarious person.

“I figured I’m not [gregarious]… I’ll make friends with a socially adept person and they’ll be the one that brings everyone in.”

Although autism is known by certain health bodies and charities as a ‘lifelong’ developmental disability, some studies support Byrne’s theory about growing out of the condition.

One study published in the journal Pediatrics, carried out by John Hopkins researchers compared 1,300 children with past and current autism diagnoses.

Around a third of the children surveyed were once diagnosed with autism but were not considered autistic any longer.

The singer of songs like Psycho Killer also said that he could “function fine” but became “very uncomfortable”, regularly having to ask “‘am I supposed to do that in that way?’”

He also reckoned that the condition empowered him and gave him super focus.

Symptoms of Asperger’s, now diagnosed as Autistic Spectrum Disorder

There are roughly 700,000 autistic adults and children in the UK.

Asperger’s was first considered a “mild” or “high-functioning” form of autism but now people who fit the profile of someone with Asperger’s are diagnosed with Autistic Spectrum Disorder.

The symptoms of autism in adults include finding it hard to understand what others are thinking or feelings, anxiety in social situations, preferring to be alone, and finding it hard to describe your own feelings, according to the NHS.

The other symptoms include coming across as blunt, rude, and not interested in others, avoiding eye contact, not understanding social norms, and liking to plan things carefully before doing them.

The symptoms of autism in children may include avoiding eye contact, not smiling back at other smiling people, repeating phrases, and repetitive movements.

The health body recommends speaking to your GP if you think your child has symptoms of autism or the special needs staff at their school.

You may also want to visit another health professional, such as a private therapist.

An early diagnosis can help children to get the support they need.

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