So as the number of individuals with autism and Aspergers continue to increase and they become a greater part of the public conversation regarding research and treatment, one question that comes up frequently is “what famous people have Autism”?
Well, to most of those familiar with this disorder, the idea of someone famous with Aspergers would almost be considered an oxymoron as the word “famous” usually conjures up images of someone who is always in the spotlight and likes going to social engagements or just hanging out with their friends. For those with Autism however, nothing could be further from the truth.
Photo courtesy of Kevin Dooley
One contributing factor to this is that unfortunately for many of those how do or might have Autism, it is something that can easily be misunderstood and for doctors it can also be misdiagnosed. In some situations, it can go undetected as late as into adulthood and for even a few, it may only come through their own perseverance to understand themselves. So why is that?
For starters, unlike many others who have autism, people with Asperger’s rarely display a delay in either language or cognitive development. So why’ll they may have a lack of social skills, they’re ability to communicate can still help them get through their day-to-day routine.
In addition to that, if Aspergers is difficult to diagnose for doctors, then it might stand to reason that this would also be true for the public. For those in the limelight, like those in television, radio or the movies for example, perception is something that is important to them and thus something they strive to control when they appear in the public eye.
Putting that aside though, if we’re able to remove the cameras, makeup and the like, who are some of the famous contemporary people of today who have Autism? One footnote to add here is that for many of these people; their diagnosis is based on self evidence and in fact not medically proven.
With that said, this group includes:
- Paul Allen (entrepreneur)
- Dan Aykroyd (actor)
- Bob Dylan (musician)
- Bill Gates (entrepreneur)
- Temple Grandin (author)
- Al Gore (politician)
- Daryl Hannah (actress)
- Alfred Hitchcock (director)
- Garrison Keillor (public radio)
- Clay Marzo (surfer)
- Craig Nicholls (musician)
- Keith Olberman (sportscaster)
- Tim Page (author)
- Oliver Sacks (author)
- Charles Schultz (cartoonist)
- James Taylor (musician)
- Andy Warhol (artist)
- Robin Williams (comedian)
In addition, there are also many historical people that are thought to have had Aspergers and they include:
- Jane Austen (writer)
- Ludwig Van Beethoven (musician)
- Thomas Edison (inventor)
- Albert Einstein (scientist)
- Henry Ford (auto maker)
- Benjamin Franklin (politician)
- Abraham Lincoln (politician)
- Henry Thoreau (writer/philosopher)
- Mark Twain (writer)
In many ways we may never truly know how many other famous people may have Asperger’s because as mentioned previously, those under the spotlight tend to prefer to control what the public does or doesn’t see in regards to themselves? That said, what are some of the traits that these people exhibit that lead to that conclusion?
Some of these individuals, like Albert Einstein, may have had language delays as a child. Others such as Bill Gates, were unable to develop peer relationships and still some, like Benjamin Franklin’s, had an obsession or even compulsion with order. All of these are examples of characteristics common to those with Autism.
Despite the challenges that Autism (and even Asperger’s) present though, some of these people show or have shown us that one can overcome these obstacles and lead a happy and rewarding life. In fact, we see that by simply combining some of their unique traits such as their ability to focus or strong perseverance along with their strong academics, they have shown that perhaps Autism can be a blessing whereas many may see it as a weakness.
So what do you think, are there any we have missed. Leave us a comment below and let us know your thoughts.