The Britain’s Got Talent contestant – who has gone on to have hits around the world – told of her relief at having a proper explanation for “emotional outbursts” and “acute anxiety” that have afflicted her throughout her life.
Yesterday Boyle, 52, revealed she had seen a specialist a year ago who finally diagnosed her as having Asperger’s syndrome.
“It was the wrong diagnosis when I was a kid,” she said. “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.
“I went to seek a diagnosis from a Scottish specialist. Nobody told me to. I thought I had a more serious illness and couldn’t function properly.”
Before she became famous, Boyle had lived a quiet life with her mother, Bridget, in Blackburn, West Lothian. As a child she had been bullied by local children because she was seen as different and awkward, leaving her feeling isolated and frustrated.
However, Boyle said the specialist who diagnosed her condition had discovered that her IQ was above average.
Though she did not win Britain’s Got Talent, her performance of I Dreamed a Dream from the musical Les Miserables saw her catapulted into the media spotlight.
Her recording of the same name became the UK’s best-selling debut of all time and her two subsequent records have both achieved international successes, and she has performed for both the Queen and Pope Benedict XVI and well as appearing on prime-time US television.
However, there were serious concerns during her initial rise to fame that she could cope with stardom, with press stories of emotional meltdowns and unpredictable behaviour.
The singer admitted in an interview yesterday that she suffers from depression and mood swings, and needs the support of others.
“I am not strong on my own,” she said. “When I have the support of people around me I am fine. I have a great team.”
Recently, Boyle’s life story has been turned into a stage show, with Scots actress Elaine C Smith playing the singer, while US filmmakers are said to be interested in making a biopic of her life with Meryl Streep potentially taking the lead role.
Boyle made her own big-screen debut this year in the festive movie The Christmas Candle.
Robert MacBean, policy and campaigns officer for the National Autistic Society Scotland said: “By revealing her diagnosis, Susan Boyle is helping to highlight that there are older people with autism in all our communities who need our support and care.
“Too many adults with autism are missing out on diagnosis entirely and too many are still waiting for their needs to be assessed. And all too often, it’s unclear what support will be available for them as they get older. This must change.”
Boyle has insisted that the diagnosis would not become a burden to her. “It will not make a difference to my life,” she said. “It’s just a condition that I have to live with and work through.
“I think people will treat me better because they will have a much greater understanding of who I am and why I do the things I do.”