Holly Madison revealed she was diagnosed with autism earlier this year.
In a recent episode of Talking to Death podcast, the 43-year-old The girls next door alum revealed how lifelong social challenges led her to get tested for autism. She admitted that she underwent several assessment sessions remotely over Zoom before being diagnosed.
She revealed: “I had suspected this for some time. I've always had social problems, not recognizing social signals, not understanding things in the same way as other people. But I just made excuses for it.
Although she initially attributed her social awkwardness and introversion to her rural background, autism spectrum disorders are often characterized by diverse social interaction and communication challenges, according to the World Health Organization.
“I thought it was because I grew up in Alaska,” she continued. “And then around high school we moved to Oregon and I thought, 'Well, that was just a big social change.' So, I'm very introverted. That’s always how I wrote.”
The former Playmate clarified that, despite the diagnosis, she has high executive functioning autism, which makes the impact of the condition less extreme. She emphasized that everyone's experience with autism is different.
“I’m not a spokesperson for everyone,” Madison added. “They call it a spectrum for a reason.”
She found her diagnosis to be a huge relief, after years of being misunderstood by others for behaviors such as difficulty making eye contact and often getting lost in thought. She said people often thought she was rude.
“I like being able to explain it,” the Playboy model continued. “I only recently learned to make eye contact. A lot of times I'm in my own thoughts, things like that. So people interpret that as, 'Oh, shit, you're not very interested in me. Fuck you. I'm just not on the same social wavelength. But don’t take it personally.”
She said her diagnosis allowed her to be graceful in social situations and added that people should be more understanding and patient with others, whether they are more introverted or neurodivergent like her.
“Everyone operates differently,” she said. “To interact with anyone, you just need to have a little patience because you don't know what you're dealing with or what your level of social function is. I think even I, the way I react to people, I have a little more patience now and I don’t take things so personally.”
In 2021, Madison admitted to Call her daddy podcast that she suspected she wasn’t “neurotypical” but hadn’t been diagnosed at the time. At the time, she told host Alex Cooper that she thought she might have Asperger's syndrome, which was reclassified as autism spectrum disorder in 2013.