Niall Aslam has opened up about the “personal reasons” that caused him to quit Love Island, revealing for the first time his childhood diagnosis with Asperger Syndrome.
The 23-year-old construction worker from Coventry was one of the original Islanders in this year’s show and quickly became a fan favourite. But on 12th June it was revealed that he’d left the villa, with Dr Alex telling his fellow contestants: “For personal reasons unfortunately he can’t continue or come back to the villa.”
Now, “rainbow fish” Niall has shared a post explaining to his fans what was really going on, and why his Love Island experience has encouraged him to “realise and accept” his diagnosis.
“Right, so here it goes… for this post I am putting my laying it on thick brush down and hoping to hit the nation with a love potion,” he wrote.
“For far too long I have suffered in silence and not acknowledged a massive fact about my life which going into the villa has led me to finally realise and accept.
“When I was a young child I was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome, a fact that until this post has never shared outside of my close family. Growing up was extremely difficult for me and I often felt out of place. I always felt that people didn’t understand me, yet I was afraid to reveal my true scales as I did not want the label or stigma that was attached to it.”
He added: “But now I think it is important that I come forward, not only so that I can finally be honest with myself and to those around me, but also so that other individuals in my position can embrace their true colours. It’s not been an easy ride for me to come to terms with this fact but I am glad that I can now accept who I am, and am looking forward to my next chapter.”
Niall – who was coupled up with Georgia at the time of his departure – also praised the ITV team for their support throughout his Love Island experience.
“I would just like to thank the team at ITV for always backing me and giving me the opportunity to rid my myself of my insecurities and embrace the fact that I am different yet I am still a rainbow fish,” he said. “I can’t explain how grateful I am for the support from the whole team over this period.
“I would also like to thank the British public for the love you have all shown me over the past few weeks, it has been overwhelming. Now it’s time for this rainbow fish to dive deep into the big blue ocean and show the world what I’m all about – there’s more layers to come!”
Jane Harris, Director of External Affairs at the National Autistic Society, said: “We really hope that Love Island contestant Niall Aslam’s revelation that he is autistic will encourage fans of the show to find out more about autism.
“There are around 700,000 autistic people like Niall in the UK, but too many of their lives are limited by the public not understanding the challenges they face. By talking so openly about his diagnosis and the reasons he left Love Island, Niall has played an important role in bringing autism to the public’s attention.”
She added: “The National Autistic Society wishes this ‘Rainbow Fish’ lots of success on his journey.”