Former Love Island hopeful Niall Aslam has broken his silence on why he left the reality show, revealing that he has Asperger syndrome.
Niall exited the ITV2 programme after one week into the current series, and the reason for his departure was unknown.
At the time, ITV said Niall left for “personal reasons”.
He has now told fans that he felt it was “important to come forward” about having Asperger’s, an autism spectrum disorder that affects how people perceive the world and interact with others.
In a lengthy Instagram post, Niall wrote: “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.
“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.”
Niall said he “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 thanked 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”.
While in Love Island, Niall referred to the children’s book The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister, saying: “I’m, like, the rainbow fish … I need, like, a female fish to come and unravel my rainbow colours.”
He continued, on Instagram, that he cannot “explain how grateful I am for the support from the whole team over this period”.
Niall said the support and love from the British public has been “overwhelming”.
He concluded: “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! #AutismAwareness #BeYourOwnKindOfRainbowFish #LessPrangMoreLove.”
Following his departure, Love Island contestant Alex George said of Niall: “I’m obviously sad that Niall’s left the villa. We got on really, really well.
“He’s such a great guy and I look forward to catching up with him and having some fun with him outside.”
The NHS says it is estimated that around one in every 100 people in the UK has autism spectrum disorder, which includes Asperger syndrome.