What is Autism?
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, autism is “a developmental disability that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges”. Basically, those with autism may communicate, think and behave a little differently than those without autism.
The DSM states that for a person to be diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, they must have persistent deficiencies in social communication and have restricted, receptive behaviors.
Those with autism may struggle with social-emotional reciprocity. They may also struggle to understand nonverbal communication from sarcasm to facial expressions.
Due to their difficulty interacting with people, it can be especially difficult for them to make friends or relate to their peers.
In addition to socialization, those with autism may illustrate restricted and receptive patterns of behavior. Those with autism may insist on a specific daily routine and stress out when there is any deviation from that routine.
Also, they may hyper-focus on a specific area of interest, learning absolutely everything they can about a particular topic.
This video by the National Autistic Society quickly goes over the basics of autism and is a great starting point for those who wish to educate themselves on the topic.
How Common Is Autism?
The CDC conducts regular prevalence reports for those with developmental disorders. They reported that 1 in 54 children have been diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder.
It is also reported that autism is more commonly diagnosed in boys than girls. Dr. Robert T. Muller says that women who are actually on the spectrum may be often misdiagnosed.
While psychologists tend to focus on diagnosing children as early as possible, sometimes people do not discover that they are on the spectrum until later in life.
Some people argue that too many people are diagnosed with autism or that autism is a new and cool “trend”.
Some believe that there must be something wrong with younger generations if they are being diagnosed with autism more than older generations.
Neurodiversity scholar John Elder Robinson writes “Many scientists and a growing number of openly autistic adults believed autism had always been here. From their perspective, there was no epidemic, just a recognition of what had always been.” People have more resources to seek help now.
Autism is a Spectrum
It is important to note that autism is a spectrum. This is why it’s professionally known as Autism Spectrum Disorder.
This means that it is one disorder, but comes on many different levels of severity and may manifest itself in different ways from person to person.
One of the different forms of ASD is Asperger’s. It was first described in the 1940s but was not added to the DSM until 1994. It is often known as “high-functioning autism.”
However, the current DSM does not include Asperger’s as a separate disorder. Rather, it includes Asperger’s in the broader ASD.
Still, some people who were formerly diagnosed with Asperger’s hold on to that name, which is why you will see it mentioned a few times in this article.
In the past few years, more and more celebrities are announcing their autism diagnoses. Speaking up is always important.
It is important Those with undiagnosed autism may spend their whole lives feeling different and alienated from everyone around them.
As awareness grows, more people can seek professional help and feel at peace with their differentness.
According to Dr. Julia England Strait, an official autism diagnosis can foster self-understanding. This can lead to help if needed, which will lead to an improved quality of life.
Awareness helps not only those with autism but everyone else as well. Humanity has a history of being fearful and mean towards things they do not understand.
However, if more people realize that those with autism can lead successful lives, they will not ostracize those who are different. Understanding leads to peace amongst each other.
Celebrities With Autism
From actors to musicians to athletes to influencers, many different celebrities have been open about being on the spectrum. Some were diagnosed as children and some were diagnosed later in life. Despite any struggles these celebrities have faced, they have led successful careers.
There are always speculations about historic famous people and whether or not they had undiagnosed autism. Beethoven, Einstein, and Darwin are all suspected to have lived with autism. However, this list only features celebrities with confirmed diagnoses.
Here are 30 celebrities with autism:
1. Sir Anthony Hopkins
Award-winning actor Anthony Hopkins was not diagnosed with autism until his 70s. He says he felt different and alone before his diagnosis but thinks his Asperger’s has helped him as an actor. In 1993, he was knighted by the Queen for his contribution to the arts.
2. Courtney Love
Grunge goddess Courtney Love has been seeing psychologists since she was a little girl. At age nine, she was diagnosed with mild autism.
3. Chris Rock
Chris Rock is best known for starring on Saturday Night Live and writing the sitcom Everybody Hates Chris. He has won four Emmy Awards and three Grammy Awards for his comedy programs.
In 2020, he revealed he was diagnosed with a non-verbal learning disorder, which is on the autism spectrum.
4. Dan Aykroyd
Comedian, musician, and actor Dan Aykroyd was part of the original Saturday Night Live Cast. Later, he went on to form the Blues Brothers band and wrote the script for Ghostbusters.
He was diagnosed with Aspergers in the 80s and credits his Aspergers for many of his script ideas.
5. Susan Boyle
Susan Boyle wowed the world in 2009 after she sang on Britain’s Got Talent. His debut album topped the Billboard charts for six straight weeks. She was diagnosed with Asperger’s in 2012.
6. Satoshi Tajiri
Satoshi Tajiri is the creator of the Pokemon video game franchise and is regarded as one of the most influential figures in video game history. He has confirmed that he has autism. One of his hyper fixations as a child was insects. This is evident in many Pokemon creature designs.
7. Temple Grandin
In 2010, Time Magazine listed Temple Grandin as one the most influential people in the world. She is an animal behavioral scientist. She is also a spokesperson for autism and has written many books about her thought processes.
8. Jim Eisenreich
Jim Eisenreich played for the Minnesota Twins in 1982. Unfortunately, he struggled with Tourettes and Asperger’s and had to withdraw. He sought professional help and was able to return in 1986 to the Kansas City Royals team, where he was awarded Player of the Year.
9. Rachel Barcellona
Rachel Barcellona is an author, model, opera singer, actress, radio show host, and Miss America contestant. She was diagnosed at age 3 and now has her platform called The Ability Beyond Disability. She even spoke at the United Nations during World Autism Day.
10. Wentworth Miller
Wentworth Miller is an actor best known for his roles in the television series Prison Break and The Flash.
He has also appeared in the music video for Mariah Carey’s number one hit We Belong Together. In the summer of 2021, he announced in an Instagram post that he received a formal autism diagnosis as a middle-aged man.
11. Billy West
Voice actor Billy West has an extensive career. He is best known for his roles in Doug, The Ren and Stimpy Show, and Futurama.
Additionally, he has voiced various classic cartoon characters like Bugs Bunny, Popeye, Woody Woodpecker, and Elmer Fudd. West has both ADHD and autism.
12. Dan Harmon
Television writer Dan Harmon did not know much about autism until he started researching it to write a character for the hit show Community. He found out he matched a lot of the symptoms and met with a psychologist to confirm that he is on the spectrum.
13. Daryl Hannah
Daryl Hannah is an actress who won a Saturn Award for her role in the Kill Bill movies. She was diagnosed with autism as a child and says her disorder made her feel shy and scared. She has worked to build confidence, and currently, she is an environmental activist.
14. Hannah Gadsby
Hannah Gadsby is an Australian comedian who has won a PrimeTime Emmy Award for her stand-up show, Nanette. She was diagnosed with both autism and ADHD in 2017.
15. David Byrne
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee David Byrne is best known for his band, Talking Heads. He says that he found communicating difficult because of his autism, but that being on stage helps him express himself.
Emiliano Rodolfo Rosales-Birou, or better known as Chuggaaconroy, is a gaming YouTuber with over one million subscribers. He has connected with many viewers by discussing his autism during videos.
17. Jessica-Jane Applegate
Jessica-Jane Applegate is a Paralympics gold medalist and has broken records in her swimming career. She was diagnosed with Asperger’s at a young age.
18. John Howard
John Howard is a professional mixed martial arts fighter. He has competed many times in the UFC. He was diagnosed with autism at age 33.
19. Stephanie Davis
Stephanie Davis is an English theater actress and singer. In 2019, she opened up about her recent autism diagnosis. She started a YouTube channel to discuss her struggles with mental illness.
20. James Durbin
James Durbin is a musician. He competed on American Idol and went on to perform in the heavy metal band Quiet Riot. He was diagnosed with both autism and Tourette’s syndrome as a child.
21. Clay Marzo
Clay Marzo is a professional surfer. He was misdiagnosed a few times in childhood with ADD and dyslexia. He finally received a formal Asperger’s diagnosis at age 18.
22. Tommy Des Brisay
Tommy Des Brisay is a Paralympic runner. He was diagnosed with autism at age 2. He was nonverbal until the age of 7, but he could type out words before he could speak. He has a YouTube channel highlighting all of his running adventures.
Philippa Brown is a New Zealand singer known by her stage name of Ladyhawke. She spent her childhood with undiagnosed Asperger’s. She has released 3 albums and is set to release a fourth in late 2021.
24. Alexis Wineman
Alexis Wineman made history when she was the first autistic woman to compete in the 2013 Miss America beauty pageant.
At the age of 11, she was diagnosed with Pervasive Developmental Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified which is on the spectrum. Currently, she is an advocate for autism.
25. Paula Hamilton
British model Paula Hamilton was diagnosed with autism and dyslexia at age 47. She did not learn how to write until she was 11. In 2006 she was a featured judge on Britain’s Next Top Model.
26. PJ Au
Model and Instagram influencer PJ uses her platform to spread information on autism and asexuality. She has been on the cover of magazines and acted in films.
27. Ian Terry
Reality television star Ian Terry has won the 14th season of Big Brother. He revealed his autism diagnosis on national TV during an episode. Terry is also a Mensa member.
28. Lionel Messi
Considered one of the best soccer players in the world, Lionel Messi has a stellar career. He holds an Olympic gold medal and is captain of the Argentina national team. It has been reported by the Autistic Community Network that he is on the spectrum.
29. Dr. Vernon Smith
Born before autism spectrum disorder was even conceived by psychologists, Vernon Smith has revolutionized the field of economics. In 2002, he was awarded the Nobel Prize. His contributions. He is currently a professor at Chapman University.
30. Adam Young
Musician Adam Young is best known by the name Owl City. His hit song Fireflies has sold over 7 million copies worldwide. Young has said in interviews that he has Asperger’s