When celebrities are open about their private lives, they do us all a favor by raising awareness about various health issues and causes. John Wayne, for example, is considered a trailblazer in Hollywood for coming forward about having cancer during an era when celebrities typically did not speak of such things.
“Leo Kanner first described autism almost 70 years ago, in 1944. Before that, autism didn’t exist as far as clinicians were concerned, and its official prevalence was, therefore, zero. There were, obviously, people with autism, but they were simply considered insane.” — Discover
Autism is considered a new developmental disorder as it did not clinically exist until 1944. This list of famous people with autism includes the full spectrum of the diagnosis. There are many celebrities and famous people that are just now being diagnosed as adults. Here are a few well-known celebrities of today as well as other classic figures from the past.
1. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Mozart is said to have had repeated facial expressions and was in need of constant motion of his hands and feet. His hearing was also very sensitive. By studying letters between the musician and his family, historians have shared that one day Mozart was having a bit of a bored moment so he jumped up and hurdled over tables and chairs, meowed like a cat and did somersaults.
2. James Durbin
James was a hero to many when he competed on Season 10 of American Idol and was open about his Tourettes and Asperger’s syndromes. James’ debut album, Memories of a Beautiful Disaster, was released in 2011 and got solid reviews.
3. Daryl Hannah
Daryl has said that being diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome nearly ruined her career in Hollywood. “I never went on talk shows, never went to premieres,” she says. “Going to the Academy Awards was so painful for me. I’d almost faint just walking down the red carpet. I was so socially awkward and uncomfortable that I eventually got blacklisted.”
4. Tim Burton
Tim’s wife, Helena Bonham Carter, diagnosed him with Asperger’s syndrome. While she was researching for a film she had a bit of an “a-ha moment” when so many of the symptoms of Asperger’s syndrome lined up with the traits that she loves in her husband. Helena says: “We were watching a documentary about autism and he said that’s how he felt as a child. Autistic people have application and dedication. You can say something to Tim when he’s working and he doesn’t hear you. But that quality also makes him a fantastic father, he has an amazing sense of humour and imagination. He sees things other people don’t see.”
5. Andy Warhol
We all know the soup cans, right? The simple, repeating pattern defined an entire era of art. Dr Judith Gould, director of Eliot House, Britain’s leading diagnostic center for autism and Asperger’s syndrome, suggests that Warhol’s love of repetition was actually a symptom of autism.
6. Dan Harmon
Dan is the creator and writer of the hit TV show Community. While developing one of the characters on his show, he began researching Asperger’s syndrome and realized that he related to the character’s pathology. In a fantastic interview with Wired Magazine, Dan shares his self-diagnosis of Asperger’s: “I started looking up these symptoms, just to know what they are. And the more I looked them up, the more familiar they started to seem. Then I started taking these Internet tests.”
7. Marty Balin
Marty Balin founded the psychedelic rock band Jefferson Airplane in 1965. There are many casual references online to him as a “singer who overcame partial autism as a young child.” He has also recorded a song and intro to a short film about children with autism.
8. Lewis Carroll
Did Lewis Carroll have Asperger’s syndrome? Historians aren’t exactly sure. Professor Michael Fitzgerald, of Dublin’s Trinity College compared the behavior of his patients with Asperger’s syndrome with that described in the biographies of several famous men and determined that they would have been diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome. Lewis was on his list.
9. Courtney Love
In a biography by Poppy Z, we learn that Courtney was was diagnosed by one of her therapists as mildly autistic.
10. Temple Grandin
“The thing about being autistic is that you gradually get less and less autistic, because you keep learning, you keep learning how to behave. It’s like being in a play; I’m always in a play.” – Temple Grandin
You can watch the movie about Temple (yes, the one where Claire Danes won a ton of well deserved rewards) on DVD.
11. Dan Aykoyrd
According to a 2007 article in The Guardian, as a child, actor Dan Aykroyd was expelled from two schools for acting up and a psychiatrist had diagnosed him with a mild Asperger’s syndrome. He also had a few tics and had shown signs of obsessive compulsive disorder.