For over a decade, the industry has tried to portray Asperger’s Syndrome, more popularly known as autism, as something “otherwise.” In many cases, this has meant mocking the disorder or playing up the comedic aspects of someone on the spectrum. However, actors like Robert Pattinson have helped to shed light on this hidden disability and demonstrate that those who have been diagnosed with autism can lead happy and productive lives.

The Early Years

In 2012, Robert Pattinson finally opened up about his secret to happiness, admitting that he’s been on the autistic spectrum since he was a young child. In one of the most candid interviews he’s ever given, he discussed how he grew up and how it felt to be on the autism spectrum. The Guardian interviewed Pattinson for their ‘Listening Line’ series and one of the first things they asked him about was growing up in the shadow of his famous family. Although he was already a well-established actor, he revealed that he spent his childhood in fear of not living up to his family’s standards:

  • “I hated it when my parents got on the phone and started shouting at each other. It made me cry.”
  • “You’re meant to be the best version of yourself that you can be, but it was tough … Especially when you’re a kid and you don’t understand what’s going on.”
  • “I was a very shy kid, very frightened of doing anything wrong, especially my family. So there were always questions about things like ‘Does he have autism? Does he have Asperger’s?’”

To this day, Robert Pattinson’s parents are still his agents, making him the youngest child to ever be signed to an agency. For many years, it was common knowledge in the industry that Robert Pattinson had autism. However, the disorder was never discussed publicly—at least not until recently.

Moving Forward

Although it’s taken many years for Robert Pattinson to discuss his autism openly, he’s finally started to feel comfortable enough to do so. In the meantime, he’s worked hard to prove to the world that people with autism can lead happy and productive lives. He’s been open about his struggles and supported various autism education and awareness campaigns. Most recently, he became an ambassador for the “I Am Autism” campaign, joining other famous faces like Lady Gaga and Nicki Minaj in supporting people with autism.

Changing Public Consciousness

One of the things that makes Robert Pattinson’s confession so powerful is that he’s finally found the courage to be open about something that for so long he kept hidden. For many years, the public consciousness around autism was dominated by images of “crazy” or “annoying” behavior. This, in turn, created a culture of “otherness” around autism, leading to further stigma and isolation. However, because of people like Robert Pattinson, this is slowly beginning to change. The stigma that once surrounded autism is being replaced with more understanding and acceptance.

A Better Understanding

If someone had told Robert Pattinson about autism when he was a child, he might not have fully understood what they were talking about. However, because of the increasing number of high-profile celebrities who’ve now come out about being on the spectrum, it’s becoming easier for people to understand. The stigma that once surrounded the disorder is being replaced with more understanding and acceptance.

Even people who have never heard of autism have begun to show more compassion for those who are on the spectrum. When people find out they have autism, it usually comes as a complete shock. Many don’t understand what it is and why it affects some people so greatly. However, after spending so long in the shadows, it’s no wonder that Robert Pattinson didn’t have the words to describe what it was like to be on the spectrum. Now that he’s found the courage to speak about it, it’s opened up a whole new world for him. We’re finally beginning to see the real Robert Pattinson, the one hidden from public view for so long:

We’ll never know what it’s like to be on the spectrum, but because of people like Robert Pattinson, it’s no longer a secret. Hopefully, with more recognition and understanding, the world will become a better place for those who are affected by autism.