Famous People with Aspergers Syndrome

The difficulty in understanding and acknowledging autism, primarily high functioning autism or Asperger's Syndrome, by the medical, psychological, and psychiatric community, can lead to misdiagnosis and even failure to provide the services needed for students (Autism Today, 2007).

People with Asperger's Syndrome are often described, as having social skills deficits, reluctance to listen, difficulty understanding social give and take, and other core characteristics, is typically quite misunderstood and/or misdiagnosed in our country today.

First recognized by Hans Asperger in 1944, who recognized that the patterns of behaviors and characteristics were often noticed in the parents as well, most noticeably in the fathers, and he very perceptively noted,

"that the condition was probably due to genetic or neurological, rather than psychological or environmental factors," (Attwood, 2006, p. 2).

Psychologists, physicians, educators, and parents remain largely uneducated and uninformed regarding high functioning autism and Asperger's Syndrome, particularly in girls and women, and the person is often misdiagnosed (Fattig, 2007). "Asperger's syndrome has probably been an important and valuable characteristic of our species throughout evolution," (Attwood, 2006, p. 2).

Autism impacts normal development of the brain in the areas of social interaction and communication skills. The disorder makes it hard to communicate with others and relate to the social world. In some cases, aggressive and/or self-injurious behavior may be present (Autism Society of Delaware, 2005); however, internal behaviors such as withdrawal, depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and social isolation may be just as prevalent (Fattig, 2007). "Persons with autism may exhibit repeated body movements (hand flapping, rocking), unusual responses to people or attachments to objects and resistance to changes in routines. Individuals may also experience sensitivities in the five senses of sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste," (Autism Society of Delaware, 2005).

One reason why the prevalence in girls and women is so low in comparison to boys and men may be the fundamental lack of awareness of what Asperger's Syndrome "looks like" in females. Traditional frameworks may indicate that the female with Asperger's Syndrome is just shy, quiet, perfect at school so her parents must be exaggerating, tomboyish, moody, overly competitive, aloof, Gothic, depressed, anxious, or a perfectionist (Fattig, 2007). The Viennese pediatrician, Asperger, described a group of children with similar characteristics, observing that "the children's social maturity and social reasoning were delayed and some aspects of their social abilities were quite unusual at any stage of development," (Attwood, 2006, p. 2).

More specifically, the pediatrician included aspects of difficulty to include social skills, friendship skills, conversational skills, pedantic speech patterns, tendency towards ego-centrism and preoccupation in a particular area of interest, lack of emotional control, and an immaturity of empathetic skills. These children were noted to have difficulty attending in class and demonstrated learning deficits, along with organizational, motor, and sensory concern. The difficulty in understanding and acknowledging autism, primarily high functioning autism or Asperger's Syndrome, by the medical, psychological, and psychiatric community, can lead to misdiagnosis and even failure to provide the services needed for students (Autism Today, 2007). Applying these characteristics to famous or historical figures, may allow a better understanding of the significant positive impact great Asperger's ancestors have left behind towards an enlightened and improved society and world.

NOTE: A retrospective diagnosis is the practice of identifying a condition in a historical figure using modern knowledge, methods and medical classifications. The list below includes famous people for whom there is a lot of speculation that they have or had Aspergers Syndrome, but who may not have (or have had) Aspergers at all.

Famous People Who Have/Had Aspergers Syndrome
Adam Young, multi-instrumentalist, producer and the founder of the electronic project Owl City.
Adrian Lamo, American computer hacker
Carl Soderholm, speaker in neuropsychiatric disorders
Clay Marzo, American professional surfer
Craig Nicholls, frontman of the Australian garage rock band, The Vines
Dan Aykroyd, comedian and actor: Aykroyd stated he has Asperger's, but some feel he was joking.
Daniel Tammet, British autistic savant, believed to have Asperger Syndrome
Daryl Hannah, actress
Dawn Prince-Hughes, PhD, primate anthropologist, ethologist, and author of Songs for the Gorilla Nation
Gary Numan, British singer and songwriter
Heather Kuzmich, fashion model and reality show contestant on America's Next Top Model
James Durbin, finalist on the tenth season of American Idol
Jerry Newport, American author and mathematical savant, basis of the film Mozart and the Whale
John Elder Robison, author of Look Me in the Eye
Judy Singer, Australian disability rights activist
Liane Holliday Willey, author of Pretending to be Normal, Asperger Syndrome in the Family; Asperger syndrome advocate; education professor; and adult diagnosed with Asperger syndrome at age 35
Lizzy Clark, actress and campaigner
Luke Jackson, author
Michael Burry, US investment fund manager
Nicky Reilly, failed suicide bomber from Britain
Paddy Considine, actor
Peter Howson, Scottish painter
Phillipa "Pip" Brown (aka Ladyhawke), indie rock musician
Raymond Thompson, New Zealand scriptwriter and TV producer
Richard Borcherds, mathematician specializing in group theory and Lie algebras
Robert Durst, American real estate developer accused of murder
Robert Napper, British murderer
Satoshi Tajiri, creator and designer of Pokemon
Tim Ellis, Australian magician and author
Tim Page, Pulitzer Prize-winning critic and author
Travis Meeks, lead singer, guitarist and song writer for acoustic rock band Days of the New.
Vernon L. Smith, Nobel Laureate in Economics
William Cottrell, student who was sentenced to eight years in jail for fire-bombing SUV dealerships
Speculated to have Asperger's Syndrome
Abraham Lincoln,1809-1865, US Politician
Alan Turing, 1912-1954, English mathematician, computer scientist and cryptographer
Albert Einstein, 1879-1955, German/American theoretical physicist
Alexander Graham Bell, 1847-1922, Scottish/Canadian/American inventor of the telephone
Anton Bruckner , 1824-1896, Austrian composer
Bela Bartok, 1881-1945, Hungarian composer
Benjamin Franklin,1706-1790, US polictician/writer
Bertrand Russell, 1872-1970, British logician
Bobby Fischer, 1943-2008, World Chess Champion
Carl Jung, 1875-1961, Swiss psychoanalyst
Charles Rennie Mackintosh, 1868-1928, Scottish architect and designer
Emily Dickinson, 1830-1886, US poet
Erik Satie, 1866-1925 - Composer
Franz Kafka, 1883-1924, Czech writer
Friedrich Nietzsche, 1844-1900, German philosopher
George Bernard Shaw, 1856-1950, Irish playwright, writer of Pygmalion, critic and Socialist
George Washington, 1732-1799, US Politician
Gustav Mahler, 1860-1911, Czech/Austrian composer
Marilyn Monroe, 1926-1962, US actress
H P Lovecraft, 1890-1937, US writer
Henry Cavendish, 1731-1810, English/French scientist, discovered the composition of air and water
Henry Ford, 1863-1947, US industrialist
Henry Thoreau, 1817-1862, US writer
Isaac Newton, 1642-1727, English mathematician and physicist
Jane Austen, 1775-1817, English novelist, author of Pride and Prejudice
Kaspar Hauser, c1812-1833, German foundling, portrayed in a film by Werner Herzog
Ludwig II, 1845-1886, King of Bavaria
Ludwig Wittgenstein, 1889-1951, Viennese/English logician and philosopher
Ludwig van Beethoven, 1770-1827, German/Viennese composer
Mark Twain, 1835-1910, US humorist
Michelangelo, 1475 1564 - Italian Renissance artist
Nikola Tesla, 1856-1943, Serbian/American scientist, engineer, inventor of electric motors
Oliver Heaviside, 1850-1925, English physicist
Richard Strauss, 1864-1949, German composer
Seth Engstrom, 1987-Present, Magician and World Champion
Thomas Edison, 1847-1931, US inventor
Thomas Jefferson, 1743-1826, US politician
Vincent Van Gogh, 1853-1890, Dutch painter
Virginia Woolf, 1882-1941, English Writer
Wasily Kandinsky, 1866-1944, Russian/French painter
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, 1756-1791, Austrian composer
Historical people
Alfred Hitchcock, 1899-1980, English/American film director
Andy Kaufman, 1949-1984, US comedian, subject of the film Man on the Moon
Andy Warhol, 1928-1987, US artist.
Charles Schulz, 1922-2000, US cartoonist and creator of Peanuts and Charlie Brown
Glenn Gould, 1932-1982, Canadian pianist
Hans Asperger, 1906-1980, Austrian paediatric doctor after whom Asperger's Syndrom is named
Howard Hughes, 1905-1976, US billionaire
Isaac Asimov, 1920-1992, Russian/US writer on science and of science fiction, author of Bicentennial Man
Jim Henson, 1936-1990, creator of the Muppets, US puppeteer, writer, producer, director, composer
John Denver, 1943-1997, US musician
L S Lowry, 1887-1976, English painter of "matchstick men"
Contemporary People
Al Gore, 1948-, former US Vice President and presidential candidate
Bill Gates, 1955-, Entrepreneur and philanthropist. A key player in the personal computer revolution.
Bob Dylan, 1941-, US singer-songwriter
Charles Dickinson, 1951, US Writer
Crispin Glover, 1964-, US actor
David Helfgott, 1947-, Australian pianist, subject of the film Shine
Garrison Keillor, 1942-, US writer, humorist and host of Prairie Home Companion
Genie, 1957-?, US "wild child" (see also L'Enfant Sauvage, Victor, )
James Taylor, 1948-, US singer/songwriter
Jamie Hyneman, 1956-, Co-host of Mythbusters
Jeff Greenfield, 1943-, US political analyst/speechwriter, a political wonk
John Motson, 1945-, English sports commentator
John Nash, 1928-, US mathematician (portrayed by Russell Crowe in A Beautiful Mind, USA 2001)
Joseph Erber, 1985-, young English composer/musician who has Asperger's Syndrome, subject of a BBC TV documentary
Kevin Mitnick, 1963-, US "hacker"
Michael Palin, 1943-, English comedian and presenter
Oliver Sacks, 1933-, UK/US neurologist, author of The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Awakenings
Paul Kostabi 1962-, writer, comedian, artist, producer, technician
Pip Brown "Ladyhawke", 1979-, New Zealand Singer/Songwriter, Musician
Robin Williams, 1951-, US Actor
Seth Engstrom, 1987-, Magician and World Champion in Sleight of Hand. The best man with a deck of cards that the world has ever seen.
Tony Benn, 1925-, English Labour politician

View other well known and Famous People with Disabilities of different types.

Author of the Annie Books Series, Michelle is a school psychologist and medical technologist, who volunteers as a parent advocate, and provides professional development to parents and educators, regarding Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Improving Learning for Children with Disabilities (ILCD), Hidden Disabilities, and Response to Intervention (RTI). She is a proud veteran of the Air Force and previous school board member. Michelle has Asperger's Syndrome, Attention Deficit with Hyperactivity Disorder, and learning disabilities. She is a doctoral candidate in Education Leadership.

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