Bradley Riches shares how autism affected his time on CBB

Heartstopper actor Bradley Riches has spoken about how his autism affected his time in the Celebrity Big Brother house.

Riches appeared on the BBC disability and mental health podcast Access All to talk about the challenges that being in that environment presented, and the strategies he used to cope.

He explained that, in his regular life, he likes to structure his routines like a school timetable, and had spent time mentally preparing for the chaos of the house.

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"I got my brain around it quite easily," Riches said. "I blocked off three weeks, and that was my routine and I expected the unexpected. Once I was in that routine, I felt very comfortable and very open with everyone, I was on a roll."

He also popped his earplugs in for the launch night, so all the noise of the crowd didn't overwhelm him as he made his entrance into the house. It also allowed him to "be more present because I wanted to absorb all of it".

Unfortunately he couldn't prepare for everything, and explained that he struggled with the "absolutely disgusting" white lights of the kitchen, and was worried they could trigger a sensory overload. That led to him spending a lot of time outside and in the bathroom, where it was less distressing for him.

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Despite the lights, he explained that he felt comfortable enough to stim – to do a repetitive action in order to process emotions – on camera, and was proud to help normalise it on TV, especially when reading reactions from other autistic people on social media.

"I just felt so accepted, and I was like, if I want to stim I'm going to stim and not feel ashamed of it," he added.

Celebrity Big Brother can be watched on ITVX. Heartstopper will return to Netflix later this year.

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