Famous People Who Have or Had Asperger's Syndrome
Published: 2017-11-10 - Updated: 2022-02-10
Author: Michelle Fattig | Contact: Disabled World (Disabled-World.com)
Peer-Reviewed Publication: N/A
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Synopsis: 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.
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).
This article is from our digest of publications relating to Famous Disabled People that also includes:
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.
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
- 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
- Elon Musk, revealed he has Asperger's syndrome while appearing on the U.S. comedy sketch series Saturday Night Live (SNL).
- Gary Numan, British singer and songwriter
- Greta Thunberg, pictured above, was born on the 3rd of January 2003. Greta Thunberg is a Swedish environmental activist on climate change whose campaigning has gained international recognition. Greta Thunberg has not referred to herself as disabled. She wants the world to know that Asperger's is her superpower and that in times of crisis we need people who can think outside of the box.
- 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
- 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
- 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
Speculated to have Asperger's Syndrome
Although the diagnosis of Asperger's syndrome is not possible without direct testing and observation of an individual, it has been suggested by some authors that many successful historical figures may have had Asperger's syndrome, including Mozart, Albert Einstein, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and Marie Curie. Of course, definitive diagnosis of historical figures with Asperger's syndrome is not possible, and many of the traits exhibited by people with Asperger's syndrome can also occur because of intellectual giftedness or even attention deficit disorder (ADD) - https://www.medicinenet.com/asperger_syndrome/article.htm
Perhaps the most powerful observation Diane M. Kennedy (The ADHD-Autism Connection: A Step Toward More Accurate Diagnosis and Effective Treatments) offers in defense of her theory is that the unusual characteristics of some of the most influential people in history (including Albert Einstein, Winston Churchill, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and Thomas Edison) are quite likely attributable to diagnoses that appear in this spectrum. Her personal acquaintance with the manifestations of these varying illnesses is, at times, compelling - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC181243/
- 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
- 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
- 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"
- 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
- 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 McLaurin Williams, (July 21, 1951 - August 11, 2014), 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, 1925-2014, English Labour politician
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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