Page last updated at 08:58 GMT, Tuesday, 18 August 2009 09:58 UK

Walsh defends Asperger's call

Louis Walsh
Walsh returns for the sixth series of ITV1's X Factor

X Factor judge Louis Walsh has defended the decision to allow a man with Asperger's Syndrome to audition for the talent show.

Scott James, 21, told judges he did not leave home for seven years because of his condition.

"Is he under too much pressure? I think it has to be his choice," Walsh told the Radio Times.

People with Asperger's, a form of autism, struggle with communication and social relationships.

James, from Stockton-on-Tees, will be seen on TV screens shortly in the new series of the talent competition.

'Massive reality check'

He impressed judges with his rendition of the song, You Raise Me Up.

Walsh was asked by the Radio Times if someone like James would be able to deal with the strain of appearing on the ITV1 show.

"I don't think they can, if I'm honest. People don't realise the pressure that these acts are under, especially when they're competing with everybody else backstage.

Asked if it was fair on James to allow him to appear, Walsh said: "Nobody forces anybody to go to an audition. I think it's a real-life story. Is he under too much pressure? I think it has to be his choice."

He conceded that James probably did not know what he was letting himself in for at the beginning.

"Initially, no... I think it's a massive reality check for some people."

Earlier this year, Susan Boyle came second in Britain's Got Talent but was later taken ill in London suffering from exhaustion after the series ended.

It sparked a debate about whether vulnerable people should take part in reality shows.

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