COLIN Farrell has told of his regret at spending years hiding his son's rare disorder from the public.
The actor's son James (8) suffers from Angelman Syndrome, a little-understood neuro-genetic condition which until recently was often misdiagnosed as cerebral palsy or autism.
But the 'In Bruges' star admitted he spent the first years after James's birth doing everything he could to shelter his condition from the rest of the world.
The 35-year-old Dubliner delivered a speech at the Foundation for Angelman Syndrome Therapeutics annual gala in Chicago last weekend.
Appearing as the guest of honour, he also sponsored 100 families whose children have AS, enabling them to attend and share their experiences with others. But he said he used to go out of his way to shield James, his son with ex-model Kim Bordenave, because of the scrutiny he faced as a celebrity.
However, he admitted: "It backfired on me."
"I found myself not speaking about what I wanted to really speak about so much," he said.
"I just thought, 'well, maybe it's time. I just have to speak about him.' The bottom line is he's my boy," he added.
Children with AS cannot speak, experience motor difficulties and are prone to debilitating seizures. As yet there is no cure.
The actor spoke proudly of his bond with his son and told other parents he had improved as a person because of him.
"He has made my life so much richer and so much more worthwhile and has given it such meaning that my life alone never had," Mr Farrell added.