Actors Reveal They Have Autism, Pave Way For Others With ‘Later-In-Life’ Diagnoses

“Prison Break” and “Legends of Tomorrow” actor Wentworth Miller took to Instagram to share his unexpected diagnosis of autism.

“Let’s just say it was a shock. But not a surprise,” the actor wrote.

Wentworth explains that while he doesn’t know enough about autism at the moment, he knows he has work to do, which includes “re-examining 5 decades of lived experience through a new lens.” Although he still has a lot to learn, he made sure to let the autistic community know that he is here for them and will use his platform to help others and point them toward the right people who are sharing thoughtful and inspiring content that helps “unpack terminology” and “fight stigma.”

Wentworth concludes his post by thanking those who helped him over the years, despite not knowing about his autism.

Photo: Flickr/Gage Skidmore

“I also want to say to the many (many) people who consciously or unconsciously gave me that extra bit of grace and space over the years, allowed me to move thru the world in a way that made sense to me whether or not it made sense to them…thank you,” he wrote. “And to those who made a different choice…well. People will reveal themselves.”

For years, autism has been most associated with young white boys due to current diagnostic methods, research suggests. The criteria for diagnosing autism spectrum disorder are based on data derived almost solely from studies of boys. Because of this, girls with autism may be harder to diagnose and are often overlooked and misdiagnosed, resulting in the lack of support that they need. Much like girls, research also shows that people of color are also often overlooked and diagnosed at a much older age, giving them less of an opportunity for proper resources and treatment.

Thanks to research, our understanding of autism is improving, and people like Miller are illustrating what autism can look like. Not only is Miller 49 years old, he also has a multiracial background, which shows that the criteria for diagnosing autism should not be a one-size-fits-all method.

“It was a long, flawed process in need of updating,” Miller wrote. “I’m a middle-aged man. Not a 5-year-old.”

Miller isn’t the only older public figure who has come out with a diagnosis of autism in recent years.

In 2017, actor Anthony Hopkins, who is now in his mid-80s, acknowledged his own diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome and attributed his insecurities and isolation as a kid to it. “I could never settle anywhere,” he said of his childhood. “I was troubled and caused trouble.” He also described himself as a loner, stating that he didn’t have many friends.

Despite his troubles as well as having a hard time in school, Hopkins says he made up for it by working hard and has become an extremely successful actor with his “obsessiveness about the details.”

Another individual in the public eye who wasn’t diagnosed with autism until later in life is New York assemblywoman Yuh-Line Niou, who is also the first known autistic woman elected to a state legislature. Niou spoke with Zack Budryk of the Washington Post, and explained to him that her autistic traits were overlooked when she was a child because they were considered to be positive factors, such as excelling in school with flying colors. She has acknowledged the significance of being an adult woman of color in a world where autism has not been associated with either of these.

Miller, Hopkins, and Niou all embody the gifts that autism brings someone while also displaying the challenges that can come with the disorder. Nonetheless, people on the autism spectrum continue to prove that the world is a better place because of their contributions. These public figures, and many alike, are using their platforms to break down stigmas and help pave the way for people who are also learning of their diagnoses later in life.

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