There was a time, during the dark ages of human understanding and prejudice that, people with autism were institutionalized, or worse, but through research and advancements in medical technology, things have changed dramatically. The stigma attached to the condition has decreased tremendously, and autistic children these days, although it might often be at a slower developmental rate than others, thrive as they grow, and live a full and contented life.
There are numerous famous people with autism, some of them who have already passed away, and many of them still alive who, despite their medical condition, made a huge impact on the lives of many others over the years. Just a few of these big names who are familiar to most people, include:
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart — showed exceptional musical talents from early childhood, becoming later on, one of the most well-known and influential composers of classical music of all time.
Albert Einstein — this world-famous, German-born theoretical physicist, often considered the most intelligent person to ever walk on the planet, is best known for developing the general theory of relativity. Despite being brilliant beyond measure, Einstein was not able to learn properly at school, and at times, even found his own language difficult to speak and understand. Albert Einstein didn’t speak until he was four or five years old.
Charles Darwin — this English naturalist and geologist, famous for his contributions to the theory of evolution, was also discovered to be autistic. Research conducted by Professor Michael Fitzgerald provided several facts to support this theory, including the fact that Darwin was a loner as a child, and in adulthood also preferred being on his own, to being in the company of others. Darwin would rather write letters to communicate with people instead of speaking to them directly.
Sir Isaac Newton — an English physicist and mathematician who, apart from being a chief figure in the scientific revolution, was also one of the most important scientists ever.
Michelangelo — this famous artistic genius had many characteristics that pointed to autism, and according to research, it is these autistic traits that could very well have made him the exceptional artistic individual he is so well-known to be.
Thomas Jefferson — it is thought that Thomas Jefferson, writer of the Declaration of Independence, and third president of the United States of America could have been autistic or suffer from Asperger’s Syndrome, another form of autism.
Hans Christian Andersen — the famous Danish author, also believed to be autistic, was the writer of numerous travelogues, novels, poems, and plays. It was his many, many fairy tales though, such as Thumbelina, The Ugly Duckling, The Little Mermaid, and the Princess and the Pea, to name but a few, that made him most famous.
Andy Warhol — an American artist extremely famous in the 1960s as a leader in the “pop art” visual arts movement. It is believed that his incredible artistic expression is the result of his being an autism sufferer.
Daryl Hannah — diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome at a very young age, this well-known actress of many movies kept her diagnosis secret for most of her lifetime, and only revealed the fact recently, that she is borderline autistic. Splash and Kill Bill are just two of the many movies she has performed in.
Courtney Love — American actress, visual artist, and musician, Courtney Love, widow of the late Kurt Cobain, was a child when she was diagnosed with autism. She was enormously popular in the grunge and punk scenes of the 90s, and it was her over-the-top attitude that appealed to her many fans.
Tim Burton — animator, writer, artist, movie producer and director, Tim Burton’s autism was actually discovered by his equally famous wife, Helena Bonham Carter. Beetlejuice and Edward Scissorhands are just two of the famous fantasy films that are the work of the autistic Tim Burton.
Dan Aykroyd — Dan was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome as well as Tourette’s Syndrome when he was already an adult. It was the combined symptoms of these medical conditions that led to his creating one of the most memorable movies of all time, Ghostbusters.
James Durbin — singer for ten seasons on American Idol, James was diagnosed with both Tourette’s and Asperger’s at nine years of age, after his father died. He might not have won American Idols, but he came fourth in the competition, and has acquired quite an impressive bank balance with his singing career.
David Byrne — lead singer of the successful group Talking Heads, David Byrne is considered an absolute genius in the field. He, together with one of the other band members, were the creators of the famous “indie music” and “college radio.”
Temple Grandin — there are many who might not even be aware of Temple Grandin, doctor of animal science, but she is quite possibly one of the most famous autistic celebrities around. She changed the lives of horses the world over, despite being afflicted with the many stumbling blocks of autism.
“Temple Grandin”, the movie was made about her, with Claire Danes in the leading role, which explains perfectly the story of this remarkable lady, who refused to let autism get in the way of her goals in life.
The bottom line is that autism is not the bad thing it is made out to be, but rather something that should be accepted and celebrated as a part of life.