You may have read last week about an incident involving British singer Susan Boyle, who revealed several years ago that she has Asperger’s Syndrome, something often associated with autism. For those out of the loop, I’ll give you the quickie: Boyle was at an airport in London, had an argument with airline staff, was forced to find an alternate way home and had a meltdown. She was escorted out of the airport by the police, who were concerned for her welfare.
As someone who lives under the same diagnosis as Susan, there are some things I can relate to on this issue. First and foremost, I completely understand why she had a meltdown. For me, I despise uncertainty. The unknown can be a daunting thing to think about, no matter the context. I despise conflict – and I’m sure many of you despise conflict as well. So with the combination of conflict (at an airport nonetheless), being taken off of a flight you were scheduled to be boarding and not really having a fallback plan, I understand the reason for a meltdown. We like having some things set in slate and uninterrupted. Conflict throws us off. Impromptu change throws us off. We can only do so much before that trigger of emotional outburst is pushed.
Second, I totally get why Boyle wrote an apology letter. In my life, there have been occasions where I went lost my cool on someone (not a fun thing if you are the person I’m losing my cool on). In that moment when I’m having a meltdown, I can’t stop myself and neither can anyone else. After the meltdown, I tend to take myself away from other people, sit alone and think what just transpired, as well as how to fix it. After doing that, I apologize to the person I went off on, explain why I had a meltdown and what I plan to do next.
For Susan, she probably realized after her meltdown that a lot of people saw that meltdown take place, and with no explanation, people could erroneously assume things about her. So she wrote the letter and along with her spokesperson, apologizing for the incident and talking about Asperger’s.
Third, and I think we can all relate on this one: I hate the airport. I’m sure Susan Boyle hates the airport. My parents probably hate the airport. Unless you’re cashing in on your air mileage program, you’re probably going to hate the airport. It’s a mess. I could tell you about my flight home from California this February, but that’s a different story for a different day.
I’ve gone on the record and said that everyone with autism and Asperger’s are not the same. I still stand by that statement, but I will say that I do feel like we all have similar challenges. Different hobbies, aspirations, etc., similar life-related challenges. This event, while scary, should be seen as something rather revealing. No matter the fame, we are all humans, and to expect anything more out of someone just because they are famous is ill-advised.