American actress Daryl Hannah has spoken out about her life-long battle with autism and how it forced her to take a step back from Hollywood.

The 52-year-old Splash star has revealed she was diagnosed with the developmental disorder as a child, but kept her health issues under wraps so that she could pursue a career as an actress.

However, the condition, which often causes difficulties in social situations, left Hannah with a debilitating shyness and she was terrified of attending her own premieres or promoting her movies on TV.

Even after establishing herself as an accomplished actress she still felt "terrified" to tell anyone, especially anyone working on the production side of things.

Speaking to People Magazine Hannah said: "I've never been comfortable being the centre of attention. It's always freaked me out."

People also reports that Hannah has learned to manage her symptoms and is focusing her energy on environmental activism. She hasn't completely turned her back on acting, but she said she is, "definitely not being offered the greatest roles in the world".

She added: "Life is too short to stress the small things anymore."