Autism... Under the Spotlight
As somebody with Asperger’s Syndrome, a high functioning form of autism, I know full well what it feels like to be separate from the neurotypical majority of the population. Not outcast or unwelcome, just separate. I’m quite confident that other people with Asperger’s, as well as autistic people in general, also know how it feels. Just to clarify, I am NOT now or ever going to be using the word “suffer” or any of its derivatives to describe having an autistic disorder, as I consider autism to be a gift with a small price. It’s always a lot of fun, at least for me, to find out that other people, especially the ones that we look up to and are famous, are also autistic. Here are six famous people who have or are thought to have had autism.
The great English scientist Sir Isaac Newton, who as many people know is considered the forefather of modern physics. As a person, Newton was known to be rather inept at socialization. He also had rather strained relations with a good deal of people that he knew, even his friends, which he apparently did not have many of. For me, the most interesting thing about Newton was his tendency to lecture to empty rooms if nobody showed up to his lectures. I find this bit of information to be most interesting due to the fact that I actually do that quite a bit myself at home. I call it thinking aloud, though it is essentially lecturing.
2. Albert Einstein-
Einstein,along with Newton, is considered among the greatest scientists of all time. As a child, he was known for repeating sentences until he was around seven years old. The repeating of phrases and/or words, which is now referred to in the neuroscience community as echolalia, is considered to be a common trait of autism. Besides that (going back to my point on lectures), he was also known for giving convoluted lectures. When thinking aloud, what I am saying can be rather convoluted, mainly because I tend to repeat myself at times, go into extreme detail at times, and sometimes, when speaking to others, go on a tangent.
3. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart-
Like many people with autism, it is said that mozart showed signs of echolalia like einstein did. Besides that, he was also, like myself at times, known to make repeated facial expressions. Most interesting to me, however, is the fact that he was, like myself, sensitive to noises. For example, loud noises apparently made him feel physically sick. Many of these symptoms, however, are also attributable to Tourette’s Syndrome.
4. Dan Aykroyd-
The Canadian-American actor and comedian is known for starring in Trading Places, Saturday Night Live, Ghostbusters, and The Blues Brothers. Not only has he been professionally diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, but his past obsessions with ghosts and police officers helped lead to the creation of the popular Ghostbusters films. This obsession with the police also helped with the creation of The Blues Brothers (1980). He was diagnosed with Asperger’s in the 1980s.
5. Derek Paravicini-
If you have not heard of Derek Paravicini, I am not too surprised. Even within his field of expertise, that being the piano, he is not the most well-known figure. Despite that, those who do know of him consider him to be among the most gifted pianists alive. In fact, after just hearing a song once, he is able to play it on the piano almost flawlessly. Besides being autistic, he is also blind, and was born prematurely. Talk about overcoming great odds!
6. Tim Burton-
The legendary stop-motion and live-action filmmaker and director was diagnosed by his wife, actress Helena Bonham Carter, with Asperger’s syndrome. This is not surprising, seeing how much artistry and details go into his films and artworks.
So whenever you feel separate from the general populace, just think of all the great people, both dead and alive, who (are at least thought to) have autism.