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Joined: 25 Aug 2013
Age: 66
Gender: Male
Posts: 34,673
Location: Long Island, New York

25 Apr 2024, 11:15 am

Heartstopper’s Bradley Riches hits back at trolls claiming he’s not autistic

In March, the 22-year-old actor, who plays James McEwan in Netflix’s queer teen drama Heartstopper, stepped into the Big Brother house for the first season of ITV’s Celebrity Big Brother revival.

He explained that one of the reasons he wanted to go on the show was to bring better autistic representation to TV, and spoke openly about the challenges of being neurodivergent while in the Big Brotherhouse.

In one moving conversation, he spoke to West End actress Marisha Wallace about writing his children’s book “A” Different Kind Of Superpower, which is based on his experience of being diagnosed with autism as a child.

He told Wallace that being in the house was “a lot” and that he often ends up overthinking things and feeling he’s “not doing everything right”.

Despite being candid about how autism impacts his day-to-day life, Riches has now shared that he’s been targeted by trolls claiming “he’s not autistic”.

On Instagram, Riches shared a photo of himself entering the Celebrity Big Brother house, overlaid with social media comments questioning his autism diagnosis – including claims that he is “faking” having the neurological and developmental disorder.

We have always been presented by stereotypes in the media telling us how autistic people are meant to look, behave and present. Just because I don’t fit into what you have seen before and fit into what you think ‘being autistic’ is, doesn’t mean I am not autistic.”

He went on to describe the autism spectrum as a colour wheel, where “every little part of a colour wheel is a different part of being autistic”.

We are all different, but we are still autistic,” he added, shooting down those who expect him to fit into their idea of what it means to be neurodivergent.

“Not meeting your false expectations doesn’t mean a false representation of autism. Start listening to REAL autistic voices and learn.”

Fans and fellow TV stars have since flooded his comment section to affirm his message and show their support.

The actor will also star in Jack Godfrey and Martha Geelan’s hit musical Babies in London next month.

Professionally Identified and joined WP August 26, 2013
DSM 5: Autism Spectrum Disorder, DSM IV: Aspergers Moderate Severity

“My autism is not a superpower. It also isn’t some kind of god-forsaken, endless fountain of suffering inflicted on my family. It’s just part of who I am as a person”. - Sara Luterman