Some of these famous people with autism may surprise you. You may not have known that some of the best-known stars or some of the world’s most fascinating minds are actually on the spectrum.
What Is Autism?
“Autism” is a very broad term. It describes a whole spectrum of conditions, all characterized by a few common traits, and just to name a few like repetitive behaviors and challenges with communication and social skills. For instance, you may have heard of or know of a person diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, which is also considered a spectrum disorder.
Some famous people on the autism spectrum are high-functioning which means that they can better integrate into society – even if they often see things slightly differently from the rest of their peers.
Others, however, are more strongly affected. One-third of those with autism suffer from an intellectual disability, and about just as many are susceptible to epilepsy.
One could say that a person with autism is wired differently. Their brain’s nerve cells and synapses are organized in a different way, and, as a result, process information uniquely.
Many think that a diagnosis of autism means a child is doomed to a lonely life devoid of any accomplishments. History has proven this theory to be false, and many people with the higher-functioning forms of autism have gone on to do great things. There are some autistic famous people who though may have struggled initially can be an inspiration to children with autism, or their parents.
Autism does not have to be a dark and lonely existence. Some autistic children are very bright, and they have a personality to match. No one with a disability should be underestimated, and this goes for those with autism as much as for anyone with any other condition.
Though it has not been proven, some speculate that Albert Einstein may have had a high functioning form of autism. Because he is no longer alive, there is no way he can be diagnosed. However, these theories are popular, and they are attributed to some behaviors that he demonstrated, and that he was, in his own words, very much a loner and did not feel particularly connected to anyone, even his immediate family members. He was brilliant with math, but by some accounts, did not begin to speak until the age of two or three. He would often become so involved in his work that he would forget to eat meals and if a lecture he was giving drew no observers, he would lecture anyway. Again, this is just a theory, but it would appear that this assumption could be valid.
Jason McElwain is probably one of the more recent and most inspirational story of a person with autism. He was the manager for his school basketball team at a high school in the suburbs of Rochester, NY, and practiced shooting hoops for hours on end all by himself. Though he was not technically a member of the team due to height and skill level, he loved the game so much he stayed with them. He was allowed to play in the last four minutes of the last game of the season, and scored an astonishing 20 points during that time, some of them from three point range. Most players can’t score that high throughout an entire game! He has become an inspiration to many with autism or those with autistic children.
Actress Daryl Hannah was said to have been diagnosed as ‘borderline autistic’ at the age of three, but has gone on to have a successful career as an actress. She is probably best known for her role in the movies Splash and the Kill Bill series.
Andy Kaufman (died 1984) was well-known for having a very strange and outlandish sense of humor. He is another actor thought to have had autism.
Two very well known artists, Vincent van Gogh and Andy Warhol may have had autism. They exhibited many traits of those with higher functioning types of this condition, and were seen as ‘eccentric’ and brilliant. Autism is thought to be the root cause for their bright and unusual personalities and life choices. Though Courtney Love is not perhaps the best example of what someone with autism can do, it is noticed that she was diagnosed at age three as ‘mildly autistic.’ She has had her ups and down, but her band Hole did enjoy some success.
Perhaps some of the most well-known people to have this condition were born before an actual diagnosis could be made. That means that these autistic famous people have a diagnosis that is based on speculation and things that they were known for when they were alive. Many of these people are important for both historical reasons, and for bettering the world in a number of ways. Examples are Sir Isaac Newton (mathematician), Wolfgang Mozart (composer/musician), Charles Darwin (naturalist/scientist), and Michelangelo (painter/sculptor/architect/poet).