Holly Madison's Exclusive: Love and Autism at 42

Holly Madison shares personal growth after recent diagnosis.

by Zain ul Abedin
Holly Madison's Exclusive: Love and Autism at 42
© Ethan Miller/Getty Images

In an exclusive interview, Holly Madison, formerly known for her role as a Playboy model, delves into her personal journey following an autism diagnosis at 42. Ahead of the launch of her newest venture, the true crime series "Lethally Blonde," Madison shares insights into how this diagnosis has reshaped her understanding of past interactions and relationships.

Last summer marked a pivotal moment for Madison when she was diagnosed with autism, a condition that has illuminated her understanding of herself and her interactions with others. Now 43, Madison reflects on how this revelation has been instrumental in reconciling with her past, especially regarding social dynamics.

"I'm so glad I got that diagnosis because I can recognize how I operate the way I do, why I operate the way I do, how I relate to people,” Madison reveals. She further credits this understanding for enhancing her social skills.

Madison's Autism Insight

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), as defined by the National Institutes of Health, is a neurological and developmental condition impacting communication, learning behaviors, and social interactions.

Despite its symptoms often manifesting in early childhood, diagnoses can occur at any age. Madison's journey brings light to this, as she discusses her high executive functioning autism, a revelation that came to her during a December episode of the "Talking to Death" podcast.

Madison candidly discusses the misconceptions surrounding her social interactions, often misconstrued as disinterest or aloofness. Her diagnosis has offered her a new lens through which to view these interactions, allowing for greater self-awareness and understanding.

Reflecting on her time at the Playboy Mansion, where she resided through much of her twenties, Madison acknowledges the social challenges she faced. "I look back and I just see how I used to have so much trouble connecting with people," she tells.

This introspection reveals how her autism played a significant role in her past, influencing her relationships and life decisions. Post-mansion life saw Madison navigating new relationships, including her marriage to Pasquale Rotella, with whom she shares two children, Rainbow Aurora, 11, and Forest Leonardo, 7.

Despite their divorce in 2019, Madison cherishes the family they built together. Currently dating Zak Bagans, Madison expresses gratitude for his understanding and acceptance, highlighting the significance of their connection in light of her diagnosis.

This intimate emotional bond stands as a testament to the power of acceptance and understanding within relationships, particularly for those navigating life with autism. Madison's story is a compelling narrative of self-discovery, resilience, and the quest for genuine connection.

As she steps into the limelight with "Lethally Blonde," her journey offers inspiration and insight into the complexities of navigating life and relationships with autism.