“I feel all my life I’ve been in a bubble. I feel all my life I could never sort of make any relationships because people pick me up wrong. All I need is somebody just to say ‘Susan, I believe in you, Susan, I think you can do this.’ And what did I get in the very early days from other people? ‘Well, Susan’s not capable.'”
— Susan Boyle after Aspergers diagnosis, “There’s Something About Susan“
I’m finally watching this film about Ms. Boyle and I am screaming.
The performance coach hired to get her ready for live concerts is being sweet and kind and affirming when she breaks down in tears before facing rehearsals without lyric sheets, before the first rehearsal with the live band.
Maybe this is a great way to help a neurotypical person who is insecure, but in my experience, it’s the wrong way to help someone with Aspergers. She doesn’t need to get swamped by emotions, doesn’t need to remember all her failures, doesn’t need to be stroked and petted.
Ms. Boyle needs, at least from where I sit, a new way to think about the feelings she is having. She needs to be able to lift herself up and show herself with pride, getting herself out of the bubble of being an AS woman trapped alone with her feelings.
“You’re uncomfortable and scared,” I would say to her. “I get that.
“But there is one thing I know about you,” I would continue. “I know that you are Susan Boyle. You are the woman Simon Cowell dismissed as a gorp and then you sang anyway, and you just blew everyone in that theatre away. You lifted your voice and lifted the place because you are amazing, because you have a talent that is amazing. You came back and all of Britain, all the world tuned in to be with you.
“You are Susan Boyle, a mild mannered woman who learned how to take the microphone at karaoke night in pubs and use your angelic voice to get a whole room full of rowdy Scots into the palm of your hand. You are Susan Boyle, whose albums sell like hotcakes and touch people around the world, so much so that they reach out to you and tell you how they have opened their eyes, changed their lives.
“I know that you are Susan Boyle and that your voice has transfixed and delighted people whenever you felt confident enough to you use it. You are Susan Boyle and you know that your creator wants you to share that gift, so you are going to share with auditoriums of people who already know you and already love you, who have come out because they want to be transported by you.
“You are Susan Boyle and you have already absolutely proved you can do what you need to do. You have proved you got the chops.
“Sure, you are uncomfortable and scared, feeling emotional about new challenges. But I am here because I am absolutely sure that you are Susan Boyle and that you can do the same as you have done before, share that majestic voice and make people feel the love.
“That’s what I want you to remember.”
That’s what I would tell her in this case. I would do what she said she needed, tell her that I believe in her, that I knew she could do this.
Not what the coach is doing, though.
So I scream. After all, Ms. Boyle, well, she’s part of my Aspergers family.
The medical professionals who helped with my parents didn’t quite understand what I was doing when I was a bit tart, a bit challenging, a bit focused on reprogramming and re contextualizing.
But they did figure out quite quickly that whatever the hell I was doing, it worked.