Some of the most inspirational visionaries and scholars of our society are on the Autism Spectrum. Many of our favorite movies, companies, and articles would not have been possible without them. People with Autism go on to accomplish amazing feats because of their abilities and approaches. You may not have considered how some of your favorite content was created by someone on the spectrum. Our hope is to enlighten you to this history, as well as educate and inspire others with some of their amazing stories below.
“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” – Albert Einstein
Einstein is arguably one of the most notable scientists of our entire history and is renowned for his discoveries that shaped our very landscape of understanding today. Simon Baron-Cohen, a British psychologist and Autism expert from Cambridge University, notes Einstein had many signs of being on the spectrum. Einstein’s focus and love of science as well as his tendency to spend time alone were signals which Simon dug further into. Because he was laser-focused on his interests, he was able to obtain knowledge beyond the realm of what was thought possible.
“The idea is not to live forever; it is to create something that will.”
Andy Warhol was a famous artist, director, filmmaker, and social butterfly. He is one of the most prominent figures in art history as well as the Pop Art movement, and his works of art are widely recognized by people around the globe. His most famous works include the Campbell’s Soup can montage and the Marilyn Monroe Diptych. Many medical professionals have suggested that Warhol was on the spectrum due to his verbal dyslexia, ability to recognize patterns, and methodical approach to creating art. Dr. Judith Gould, Director of Britain’s leading Autism Diagnostic Center (the Elliot House) states, “I would say, from the study I have seen, that Warhol almost certainly had Asperger syndrome.”
“Relish everything that's inside of you, the imperfections, the darkness, the richness and light and everything. And that makes for a full life.”
Famous for movies such as “Silence of the Lambs”, Anthony Hopkins is a world-renowned actor, film director & producer. He has been the recipient of many highly-esteemed and prestigious awards such as, two Academy Awards, four BAFTAs, two Emmys, the Cecil B. DeMille Award and a British Academy Television Award. Hopkins has also received a star in the ‘Hollywood Walk of Fame’. He is open about his Autism diagnosis and says he prefers to avoid social situations and small talk. He notes that it is actually a gift for his career, stating “I am obsessive. It’s a great gift, actually. I was a bit slow as a school kid, and so I made up for it by working hard, and I became, you know, a successful actor. Obsessiveness about the details. I will work and work and work on the script and I learn every single line.”
“To some extent I happily don't know what I'm doing. I feel that it's an artist's responsibility to trust that.”
David Byrne, lead singer and songwriter for the Talking Heads, has helped change the stigma behind Autism, stating “However we are, we don’t know how to be another way. That’s the way we are”. He credits being so successful as an artist because his Autism diagnosis. He believes expression was easier for himself than performance and uses his powerful mind to create authentic, quirky, sincere compositions that quickly became top hits such as, “This Must Be The Place” which is frequently used in movies today.
"When something is important enough, you do it even if the odds are not in your favor."
Elon Musk is the founder of both Tesla and SpaceX and is seen as an innovator in science, technology, and marketing. He’s known for breaking the mold and expanding our society into completely new territory. In May of 2021, Elon disclosed that he has Aspberger’s Syndrome on Saturday Night Live. He stated, "I'm actually making history tonight as the first person with Asperger's to host SNL,” which resulted in a loud applause from the crowd. He went on to say “To anyone who's been offended, I just want to say, I reinvented electric cars, and I'm sending people to Mars in a rocket ship”. Elon is proud of the way his brain works and says it has enabled him to achieve extraordinary things.
“Visions are worth fighting for. Why spend your life making someone else's dreams?”
Tim Burton is an American film director, producer, writer and artist, known for classical horror stories such as “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”, “Beetlejuice” and “The Nightmare Before Christmas”. He’s known as being a creative genius due to the depth and passion behind the storylines of his productions. Though he is not formally diagnosed, he has done significant research and says that he mirrors many symptoms and traits. He has spent much of his life in solitude, which allowed him to fully engage with his writing/producing while avoiding any outside distractions.
We plan to continue releasing more stories of individuals on the spectrum who have become so successful that they’re recognized by many children and adults today. We hope our readers enjoy an inside glimpse into their lives.
Who should we feature in our next edition? Leave us a note in the comments below!