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Sia opens up about 'living in shame' as she shares secret autism diagnosis

The Chandelier singer also spoke of her sobriety

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Jenni McKnight
US Lifestyle Editor
May 31, 2023
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Sia has revealed that she was secretly diagnosed with autism two years ago. The 47-year-old admitted she is "on the spectrum" during a recent appearance on Rob Has a Podcast, sharing her health diagnosis with two-time Survivor contestant, Rob Cesternino. 

"I'm on the spectrum, and I'm in recovery and whatever – there's a lot of things," she said. Sia has been open about her battle with sobriety in the past but has never shared her autism diagnosis until now. 

Autism is a neurological and developmental disorder that impacts how a person perceives and socializes with others, causing problems in social interaction and communication, according to the Mayo Clinic

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Sia is on the autism spectrum

"For 45 years, I was like… 'I've got to go put my human suit on.' And only in the last two years have I become fully, fully myself," the Chandelier hitmaker added. 

Discussing how her life and mental well-being have changed over the last two years, Sia explained: "Being in recovery and also knowing about which kind of [neurological condition] you might have, or might not have, well, I think one of the greatest things is that nobody can ever know you and love you when you're filled with secrets and living in shame. 

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Sia is also in recovery

"When we finally sit in a room full of strangers and tell them our deepest, darkest, most shameful secrets, and everybody laughs along with us, and we don't feel like pieces of trash for the first time in our lives, and we feel seen for the first time in our lives for who we actually are, and then we can start going out into the world and just operating as humans and human beings with hearts and not pretending to be anything." 

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Sia faced backlash for her depiction of autism in her 2021 movie, Music

Back in 2013, Sia revealed that she was in a 12-step program, telling Billboard: "I got seriously addicted to Vicodin and oxycodone, and I was always a drinker, but I didn't know I was an alcoholic. I was really unhappy being an artist and I was getting sicker and sicker." 

Her autism diagnosis comes after she was criticized for casting neurotypical actress, Maddie Ziegler to play a non-verbal autistic girl in her 2021 directorial debut, Music. Sia also received backlash for the depiction of the restraint of an autistic character. 

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Sia credits Kathy Griffin for saving her life

She apologized for the scene, writing on Twitter: "I'm sorry… I plan to remove the restraint scenes from all future printings. I listened to the wrong people and that is my responsibility, my research was clearly not thorough enough, not wide enough." 

Last year, Sia revealed that the negative response she received caused her to relapse. "I was suicidal and relapsed and went to rehab," she told The New York Times, crediting comedian Kathy Griffin for helping her to recover, adding: "She saved my life."

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