Wentworth Miller was diagnosed with autism: ‘It was a shock but not a surprise’

The CW Network's New York 2015 Upfront Presentation

It’s always felt like Wentworth Miller is truly one of the top Unproblematic Faves. He’s intelligent, thoughtful and well-spoken. He’s a talented actor who is semi-retired from the industry because he doesn’t need all of that energy in his life. He came out in 2013 and used his platform to educate about mental health before it was the cause of the day. We can go years without hearing from or about Wentworth, and he shares things on his own schedule. He apparently wanted to share this part of another journey he’s on: he was diagnosed with autism almost a year ago. He posted this message on his Instagram this week (I only made some minor spacing edits):

Like everyone, life in quarantine took things from me. But in the quiet/isolation, I found unexpected gifts. This fall marks 1 year since I received my informal autism diagnosis. Preceded by a self-diagnosis. Followed by a formal diagnosis. It was a long, flawed process in need of updating. IMO. I’m a middle-aged man. Not a 5-year-old.

And (it’s a “both/and”) I recognize access to a diagnosis is a privilege many do not enjoy. Let’s just say it was a shock. But not a surprise. There is a now-familiar cultural narrative (in which I’ve participated) that goes, “Public figure shares A, B and C publicly, dedicates platform to D, E and F.” Good for them. /srs

And (it’s a “both/and”) that’s not necessarily what’s going to happen here. I don’t know enough about autism. (There’s a lot to know.) Right now my work looks like evolving my understanding. Re-examining 5 decades of lived experience thru a new lens. That will take time.

Meanwhile, I don’t want to run the risk of suddenly being a loud, ill-informed voice in the room. The #autistic community (this I do know) has historically been talked over. Spoken for. I don’t wish to do additional harm. Only to raise my hand, say, “I am here. Have been (w/o realizing it).”

If anyone’s interested in delving deeper into #autism + #neurodiversity, I’ll point you toward the numerous individuals sharing thoughtful + inspiring content on Instagram, TikTok… Unpacking terminology. Adding nuance. Fighting stigma. These creators (some quite young) speak to the relevant issues more knowledgeably/fluently than I can. (They’ve been schooling me as well.)

That’s the extent of what I’m inclined to share atm.

Oh – this isn’t something I’d change. No. I get – got – immediately being autistic is central to who I am. To everything I’ve achieved/articulated.

Oh – I also want to say to the many (many) people who consciously or unconsciously gave me that extra bit of grace + 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.

And to those who made a different choice… well. People will reveal themselves.

Another gift. W.M.

[From Wentworth Miller’s IG]

“Let’s just say it was a shock. But not a surprise.” It reminds me of Chris Rock speaking about his late-in-life diagnosis of a nonverbal learning disorder too – he spoke of feeling shocked but then unsurprised. Some people are just built differently and you can see and feel that their minds are simply unique, not better versus worse, not normal versus abnormal. Just different. Anyway, bless him and what he wrote. I imagine it’s a lot easier for him to write about it than talk about it.

Wentworth Miller at The 2016 Attitude Awards,London, UK

Photos courtesy of Avalon Red.

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18 Responses to “Wentworth Miller was diagnosed with autism: ‘It was a shock but not a surprise’”

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  1. ce says:

    I like that he opened up about this. I suspect I’m on the spectrum too but am in my 30s and have made it work for me so far. I’m curious how a more open-minded view of neurodiversity will change things over time

  2. Stellainnh says:

    That was a well thought out statement. I’m %lad he came out with his diagnosis which I hopes to de-stigmatize autism.

    I believe that there really isn’t a “normal”. It’s just a setting on the clothes dryer. I think there is a significant population that is neurodivergent which hasn’t been diagnosed.

    I know that I have ADD tendencies although I have never been diagnosed. May daughter has been diagnosed so I
    assume that I am as well,, since my husband doesn’t have any of the behaviors. I use a number of strategies to keep me on task and do use a socially acceptable stimulant (caffeine) to help me focus.

    • fluffy_bunny says:

      My husband is in his 40’s and just got diagnosed with ADHD. It started with him getting diet pills from his pcp and realizing that it helped him focus better at work. He mentioned it to his shrink and asked if they could do an assessment and she was like you’ve been a patient for 12 years and never mentioned this so it’s a little weird. She ended up giving him meds. He doesn’t drink coffee so he’s just been driving me crazy for the last 25 years with his ability to watch 3 movies at the same time. We both also got an unofficial Aspie diagnosis at the same time our son did. His therapist was like he’s on the spectrum and by the way so are you guys. Not a really big deal as an adult.

    • GraceB says:

      I’m glad that he’s been open about his diagnosis because the more kids have people to look up to and role models in various industries, the better.

      However as a mother of two autistic children, I wish he hadn’t made the TikTok suggestion. I’ve lived with this for over almost 15 years now and I’m aware of just how much false and harmful information is on TikTok, Youtube and social media in general. While I’m all for people sharing their own experiences, when it comes to dishing out advice, it’s far more complicated and many of these people don’t even have a formal diagnosis or any kind of training.

      I also worry about the growing perception of people with autism (at least in my area), as simply being people who have some difficulties with certain things but otherwise able to live a perfectly normal life. I understand that perception because with so many more people being diagnosed than ever before, many are indeed in that category but it excludes a community of ASD individuals who are so severely impaired that they may never be able to live a normal, independent life and my eldest son is one of them. I feel like increasing understanding and acceptance of neurodiversity is simply widening how we define normal, while leaving others on the outside.

  3. Darla says:

    I love him. If you ever see him being interviewed, and not for Prison Break, but a real interview, he’s so smart. He’s also gorgeous of course.

  4. JJ says:

    I loved his message. If anyone out here is creatively bent, I really recommend the podcast Creative Pep Talk with Andy J Pizza. It helps me deal with my constant creative paralysis, but the host also once in a while mentions his ADHD and has opened my awareness about neurodiversity.

  5. Justpassingby says:

    Very gracious. A real class act! Love him!

  6. Polly says:

    I don’t know much about him but as an aspie this makes me very happy. The more people in the public eye who are open about having autism the better, it helps increase awareness and break down stereotypes. And it’s a LOT more common than most people realise. I’m glad it’s brought more peace and happiness to his life.

  7. Runaway says:

    Reading this I’m also not surprised, seeing how he’s always carried himself interviews etc.
    It’s like when Elon Musk “came out” on SNL, it was new information but given everything I knew about him, it just fit.
    Good for Wentworth and I hope he enjoys better understanding himself.

  8. Lurker25 says:

    Sometimes I wonder if the conversation about Neuro diversity isn’t more indicative of the pressure ppl feel to fit into the tiny, restrictive box called “normal” than anything else. Right now we’ve got so many labels for sexuality, gender, identity, race, physical states, mental states… My point isn’t to simplify, and maybe this is part of the process, but Jesus, can we accept that everyone’s just different?
    I grew up in a non-western country. And while it might have seemed like ppl were mean (and sure, they were), it was direct. No euphemisms to mask the judgement. And more to the point – there was so much more acceptance. Most ppl just shrugged – ok, that’s what you like, how you think, what you need – great, let’s respect that and continue. If I grew up here, I’d easily have half a dozen labels on me as a child EASILY. From sexuality to mental state. But that was when I was young – I’ve slid all over the place since and felt free to do so because I wasn’t labeled.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is that it makes me sad to think that in trying to break that tiny “normal” box, we’re creating lots and lots of other boxes.

    Miller is smart, charming, sensitive, (so hot), talented… Whatever form his autism has taken, maybe it’s just him, moving through the world. Just being the person he was born to be.
    *Edited for typos

    • Ersatz says:

      It’s not because autism doesn’t present in someone the way your brain can fathom it that it doesn’t exist. When preconceived ideas doesn’t match the reality in front of them, preconceived ideas are the problem. You sound very uneducated about autism.

  9. Abby says:

    My 7-year-old son was diagnosed with autism this past fall. I am encouraged (mostly) when we’ll-known people share their diagnosis. I hope that it will help break negative and limiting stereotypes.

    • Justwastingtime says:

      Abby, my 12 yo daughter is starting a very academic private school next year. (25% of the graduating class ends up at Ivy League or Stamford which is nuts)

      A parent of an older student very directly told me recently that about 25% of the kids are autistic and talk very openly about it…..

      The times they are a changing.

  10. Susan Weston says:

    I really like this statement — it sounds like he’s learning a lot about himself and about neurodiversity. I hope it opens a lot of doors for him and soothes old hurts.

    Also, I can see why some people on tiktok etc might be great resources (social media in the right context can be a wonderful support, especially in a situation like autism where the spectrum is incredibly wide and there are many different needs, experiences, supports, problems), but I get other commenters’ concerns about using that as a trusted voice.

    If any of you are looking for more info about autism and adhd in kids, teens, and adults, I love https://www.additudemag.com/

  11. Petra says:

    Thanks for sharing Wentworth Miller. I watched prison break solely for him. I miss not seeing him in the public space, but I’m also glad he lives a quiet life. Fifty looks so great on him.

  12. Well Wisher says:

    A enlightened perspective.