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Will Asperger's or colitis win 'Idol' contestants new fans?

March 21, 2011 |  1:56 pm

RM__RAY5784 Ever since he showed up at "American Idol's" San Francisco auditions and shared the compelling story of his struggle with both Asperger's syndrome and Tourette's syndrome, contestant James Durbin has enjoyed the support of others whose lives have been touched by Asperger's and Tourette's.

"He is my new hero," wrote eddie82 earlier this month on a discussion board on, which calls itself "the online resource and community for Autism and Asperger's," urging others to "Show your support and go and vote for him on Aspies rock!"

Responding to eddie82's post, blueroses wrote that she'd voted for Durbin "about 100 times over. That's another thing he has in his favor, other people with Asperger's compulsively voting for him.", which calls itself a "blogazine for the Asperger's and autism community," is encouraging its readers to watch and vote for James. And James has been a lively topic of conversation on Facebook pages focused on autism and Asperger's.

What's more, when Durbin advanced to the top 24, the Tourette Syndrome Association featured him on its website, saying it was "excited to spread the word" of his success. "With an average of over 33 million viewers, 'American Idol' has provided unprecedented worldwide awareness of Tourette Syndrome through James’ appearances and openness about his disorder," noted the national nonprofit organization.

RM__RAY6672 But Durbin might not be the only contestant this season with a medical-issue-oriented voting bloc. Now that Casey Abrams has confirmed via Twitter that he suffers from ulcerative colitis (thus his two trips to the hospital this season) –- "Just to let every one know, I have ulcerative colitis. I'm always going to have it, but the symptoms are pretty much under control. :)," he tweeted Wednesday –- he's found a few new fans himself.

"We here wish him the best & hope this brings more awareness to Ulcerative Colitis," wrote Gabriel Hedges on The Digestion Blog.

And after Amber Tresca, who writes about inflammatory bowel disease on, asked her readers whether they'd be more inclined to vote for Casey now that they know he has ulcerative colitis, commenter Sarah Yopp wrote:

I have Crohns Disease so i know how hard it is to live with an IBD. I probably will vote for him more now that i know this but i have been voting for him all along because i think he is one of the best this season. i wish him the best and if u read this Casey, Hang in There!(=

Interesting. What do you think of voting for an "American Idol" contestant based on personal or medical issues/struggles? Fair or unfair?


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-- Amy Reiter

Top photo: James Durbin performs on "American Idol" last Wednesday on Fox. Credit: Ray Mickshaw / Fox.

Bottom photo: Casey Abrams performs on "American Idol" last Wednesday on Fox. Credit: Ray Mickshaw / Fox.