EVERYONE deserves a role model growing up – but if the media doesn’t show people like you on screen, what are you to do?

That’s what Connor Curren had to ask himself when he was a child as he doubted whether the acting industry was a place for him.

That’s because of a lack of neurodivergent people playing key roles in the industry. But things are changing, says the Scottish actor.

The Glasgow-born performer was recently cast as Christopher Boone in the National Theatre’s tour of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. The award-winning play is adapted from the bestselling novel by Mark Haddon, which focuses on Boone, a 15-year-old boy who finds a dead dog in his garden.

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It marks the first time the National Theatre put out a casting call specifically for a character – who has traits similar to autism – to be played by someone with “lived experience of neurodivergence”.

It’s a decision the 25-year-old thinks will benefit the industry, its stories and those young kids who were just like him growing up.

“We’ve got loads of neurodivergent people in this industry, there’s loads of autistic people in this industry and I think about time that the stories are told by those people,” Curren said.

“I used to think that there wasn’t a place for people like me in this industry but then you go into it, and you realise there’s a lot of us and they just start telling their own stories.

The National:

“I think that is a great thing a National Theatre has done, and I hope that other companies follow suit.”

While growing up, Curren, who studied at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, would ask himself: “Am I meant for this profession?”

“I didn’t see it enough,” he said. “I saw the characters, but I didn’t see the actors. So I kind of thought like, right, ‘am I am I having some sort of pipe dream thinking that I can do this?’ Because you look at it on paper and you go, ‘alright, OK, being an ­actor is an extrovert’s profession’.

“It’s meant for someone who obviously has incredible social skills and maybe this is opposed to who I am.

“But then I realised that’s not the truth. And you start to realise that ­actually, being autistic has probably helped me in a lot of ways.”

The National:

He went on: “I think the thing is with being autistic in a generally neurotypically-lead society that we have, I think you'll learn to act."

As a kid Curren, who is also cast in the CBBC programme Dodger, was desperate to see other actors like him and he hopes now that will become a reality for the new generation.

Reflecting on his professional debut representing a character with autistic traits on stage, Curren said: “If I can do that for someone else, if I can do that for a kid in the audience, if I can show them there is someone like me that can do this job then after I've done my job.

“That's a big reason why I do it because I want to give in some way to give a kid in the audience something I didn't have.”

Curren hopes the move by the National Theatre could lead to less stigma towards neurodivergent people.

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“Seeing myself and other autistic actors on stage and screen, I think it will get rid of all those preconceptions of what an autistic person is.

“It’s about representation, it’s about giving the parts to underrepresented communities, or communities who have been historically marginalised and getting them to tell their story.

“It’s about giving them their voice, giving a voice to communities that have historically been voiceless.

The show will come to Glasgow as part of its UK tour from April 5-9 at the King’s Theatre.