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Famous People Who Have or Had Asperger's Syndrome

Outline: A list of famous people who either have or had Aspergers Syndrome during their life. Asperger's Syndrome was 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. One reason why the prevalence of Asperger's Syndrome 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.

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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).

Greta Thunberg wearing a pink T-shirt addressing a crowd in Berlin, Germany.
Greta Thunberg wearing a pink T-shirt addressing a crowd in Berlin, Germany.

One reason why the prevalence of Asperger's Syndrome 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

Speculated to have Asperger's Syndrome

Historical people

Contemporary People

Author of the Annie Books Series, Michelle Fattig 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.

NOTE: If you know of a discrepancy in this list please contact us so we can amend the entry.

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