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Nanette’s Hannah Gadsby reveals how autism diagnosis transformed her

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Susan Devaney
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Comedian Hannah Gadsby has opened up about her autism diagnosis, revealing that it allowed her to see that the “comedy lifestyle” wasn’t for her. 

You’d be hard pressed to read a bad review of Netflix’s Nanette, and even more so to find someone who has yet to watch it.

The stand-up special has been talked about on every social media platform and at bus stops across the country since it aired on the streaming service last month. Not only is it fascinating to watch, but it sees the Australian stand-up comedian Hannah Gadsby deliver something rare in today’s world: honesty.

Now, the comedian has revealed that her best work came after she was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder three years ago.

“It’s clarified why the comedy lifestyle is so difficult for me,” Gadsby told The Guardian. “It’s a lot of noise and moving around.” 

According to Gadsby, people with autism have an increased sensitivity to traumatisation because they find it difficult to communicate and regulate their emotions. They are also more likely to be victimised. A recent study revealed that women who are diagnosed with autism are three times more likely to have experienced sexual abuse.

Currently, around 700,000 people in the UK are on the autism spectrum. Together with their families, autism is part of daily life for around 2.8 million people. However, it’a more common for men and boys to be diagnosed with autism, but some experts believe this is due to women and girls being adept at masking their difficulties. 

Gadsby says that while her autism made life as a comedian difficult in some ways, it has also been helpful in others. Studies have shown that brain regions associated with recognising patterns tend to light up more in people with autism than the average person – and she says that the success of Nanette is partly due to this ability to see patterns.

“Having the framework of autism boils down to not looking out to the world to see how I should exist, but knowing I don’t actually have to be social, knowing that it exhausts me and that I will get confused and look like an idiot,” Gadsby said.

She continued: “Because I also know that I understand things a lot deeper than a lot of people.”

You can read more about Nanette here

Images: Getty / Instagram

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Susan Devaney

Susan Devaney is a digital journalist for Stylist.co.uk, writing about fashion, beauty, travel, feminism, and everything else in-between.

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