There are many famous people with Asperger syndrome, a neurological condition on the autism spectrum characterized by: impaired communication skills (both verbal and nonverbal), repetitive behaviors, rigidity of interests, and coordination deficits. The diagnoses of famous people with Asperger syndrome have been made public via personal accounts (e.g. autobiographies) or statements. In other cases, the diagnoses may be disclosed to the media by a close family member (or friend) of the famous individual.
In rarer cases, the general public may not discover that a celebrity was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome until after the person’s death. Due to the fact that Asperger syndrome was first discovered in 1944 and wasn’t considered a formal neurological condition until 1981, many famous people that lived prior to the 1940s may have averted the diagnostic label – despite exhibiting the symptoms. Furthermore, a small subset of famous individuals with Asperger syndrome may have kept their diagnoses a secret from the general public.
If you have Asperger syndrome, it is important to realize that anyone can be affected by the condition – regardless of celebrity status, income, or innate talent. Furthermore, famous people with the condition have proved that it is possible to make significant contributions to the world and lead successful lives – despite a neurodiagnostic label of Asperger’s.
Famous People with Asperger Syndrome: Aspie Celebrities (List)
Below is a list of famous people that have been formally diagnosed with Asperger syndrome. Understand that although some of these celebrities are “higher functioning” than others, most have managed to overcome significant obstacles to attain success. Also understand that some may even credit certain aspects of Asperger syndrome as being integral to their success.
Adam Young: This is an American singer best known for creation of Owl City in 2007, an electronica project. The song “Fireflies” became 4-times platinum, number one on the Billboard Hot 100, and was among the top 25 selling songs of the decade on iTunes. Though not formally diagnosed with Asperger syndrome, Young speculates that he likely has the condition due to his mannerisms and tendencies.
He is reclusive, shy, and he dislikes doing in-person interviews – instead opting for email-based interviews. Since Young’s establishment of Owl City in 2007, he has gone on to release numerous albums including: “Maybe I’m Dreaming” (2008), “Ocean Eyes” (2009), “All Things Bright and Beautiful” (2011), “The Midsummer Station” (2012), and “Mobile Orchestra” (2015). He currently tours throughout the world, performing songs from his catalog and has amassed a large fan following.
In addition to his work with Owl City, he creates music under the projects Port Blue (experimental), Sky Sailing (synthpop), and Swimming with Dolphins (electronica band). Young has retained as strong work ethic and has managed to have a highly successful career despite his potentially undiagnosed Asperger syndrome.
Adrian Lamo: This is a former computer hacker who now works as a security threat analyst. He has been publicized in the media after hacking into various high-profile networks including those for: The New York Times, Yahoo!, and Microsoft. Lamo was arrested in 2003 as a result of his hacking into these large corporations.
Lamo is credited for reporting Chelsea Manning (formerly Bradley Manning) as being the person behind leaking government documents to the website WikiLeaks. Since Lamo’s report, Manning was arrested and is now serving 35 years in jail. Although Lamo is a high-profile security threat analyst with advanced hacking skills, he doesn’t have a high school diploma.
He has endured many personal battles including legal issues and psychiatric symptoms due to Asperger syndrome. A documentary called “Hackers Wanted” (2010) narrated by Kevin Spacey aimed to portray Lamo’s career as a hacker. Lamo now answers question on sites like Quora, helps improve security of various companies, and no longer acts as a “hacker.”
Aleksander Vinter: Most people know the Norwegian musician Aleksander Vinter under the nickname “Savant.” He believes that his savant abilities stemming from his diagnosis of autism (specifically Asperger syndrome), have contributed to his prodigious skill as a musician. As a result of his prolific musical talent and ability to produce songs quickly, he has managed to create over 10,000 songs in his lifetime.
His debut album entitled “Outbreak” was release in 2009 and nominated for a Norwegian Grammy Award. A year later, he released the album “Mamachine” (2010), followed by another album ” Ninür ” (2011). He has since gone on to release the following full-length albums: “Vario” (2012), “Overworld” (2012), “ISM” (2012), “Alchemist” (2012), “Overkill” (2013), “Cult” (2013), “Orakel” (2013), “Protos” (2014), “Zion” (2014), and “Invasion” (2015).
In addition, he has released various EPs including: “Thrillseekers” (2009), “The Ritalin Project” (2012), “Mindmelt” (2012), “Heart” (2013), “Four Days” (2013), and “Thank You” (2013). His music has been praised by artists like deadmau5 and several of his albums and singles have reached the Top 25 for specific genres of music (electronica, pop, dance) on iTunes. He is another prime example of an individual who attributes his success to his Asperger syndrome.
Ari Ne’eman: This is the co-founder of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network (2006), a nonprofit organization. The Autistic Self Advocacy Network aims to serve as an advocate for individuals with autism spectrum disorders by promoting equal rights and opportunities as those without the diagnosis. Ne’eman believes that voices of those with autism should be a part of mainstream conversation and discussion related to the condition.
In addition to his establishment of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, he was appointed by President Obama to serve on the National Council on Disability in 2010. He believes that people with autism should not be considered “disabled,” rather they should be appreciated for their neurodiversity. Ne’eman is somewhat controversial in that he is against the idea that autism should be “cured,” and ultimately against the mission of the organization Autism Speaks.
Ne’eman was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome from a young age, and was bullied for his Asperger-related behaviors including: pacing, hand-flapping, and “stimming.” He has since gone on to graduate from University of Maryland with a degree in Political Science and is the first person with autism to serve on the National Council on Disability. Though his life has been filled with challenges, he managed to overcome them and make a positive difference in the world for those with Asperger syndrome.
Brian Gutierrez: This is an American politician who served on the California State Council on Developmental Disabilities in 2013. Gutierrez is considered the youngest California State Council member, and was selected to serve by Jerry Brown (governor). Following his high school graduation from Nogales High School, he managed to raise over $100,000 for after school programs.
Throughout his term on the California State Council, he focused on optimizing the usage of tax payer money. In other words, he made sure that the money was being properly spent by politicians rather than being misused. Furthermore, he aimed to increase autism awareness by working with organizations like Autism Speaks and sought to improve the quality of life among those with disabilities.
To increase awareness for conditions like autism, Gutierrez has campaigned with celebrities such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Joan Sebastian, and Marco Antonio Solis. Following his term on the California State Council, he attained a job as an advisor to Gil Cedillo (senator) and Roger Hernandez (state assembly member). Although Brian is a highly successful politician, many people don’t know that he has been diagnosed with Asperger syndrome.
Clay Marzo: This is a professional surfer from Hawaii who is known for his creative surfing style. From a young age, he engaged in swimming competitions and managed to win the Hawaii State Swimming Championship for the 200 meter freestyle at age 10. Within one year, he had finished 3rd at the National Scholastic Surfing Association (NSSA) competition.
As a teenager, he was signed by Quicksilver surfing team and he went on to become the first surfer in history to receive multiple “perfect 10” ratings in the history of NSSA. He was the “NSSA Open Men’s Champion” in 2005. Marzo has since attained sponsorship deals from the likes of: Skullcandy, Rockstar Energy, JSLV, Carve, SPY Optic, and more.
Though many people know of Marzo’s skill as a surfer and unique “double-jointed” spins, few know that he was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome in 2007. Many people didn’t understand his behavior on the surfing circuit due to the fact that he didn’t form good social bonds with fellow surfers, fans, or corporate sponsors. Following his diagnosis, he appeared in a documentary called “Clay Marzo: Just Add Water” that documents his career as a professional surfer with Asperger syndrome.
Craig Nicholls: Many people know of the Australian rock band “The Vines,” but not many people know that their lead singer Craig Nicholls was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome. Nicholls formed “The Vines” in 1994, naming them after his father’s band “The Vynes.” He is considered lead singer, songwriter, and guitarist of the group.
From a young age, he was interested in playing guitar and listening to music. He began playing the guitar during childhood, and was always focused on arts including painting. He describes himself as a “loner” and avoided socializing with other kids in favor of staying at home and listening to music.
Nicholls struggled with traditional high school and dropped out in favor of pursuing an art-specific school. Eventually he got a job at McDonald’s and met several of his fellow band mates there. As his band The Vines gained popularity, he became recognized as a songwriter and even appeared on “The Late Show” with Jay Leno.
After several altercations, he ended up facing the legal repercussions and it was revealed in court that he had Asperger syndrome. He has stated that he manages symptoms of Asperger syndrome by rarely socializing and following his passion of making music. Although he has had difficulties stemming from Asperger syndrome, he has managed to attain significant success.
Danny Beath: He was considered a prolific wildlife and landscape photographer, and was also a college educated botanist (bachelor’s degree) and ecologist (doctorate degree). Danny managed to combine his interest in wildlife with his passion of photography, and is well-recognized for his photographs of flora and fauna – particularly rainforest plants, insects, and amphibians. His interest in photography flourished when studying for his PhD when he joined a camera club.
He is considered a self-taught photographer and was a member of Shropshire Photographic Society. Throughout his career, he participated in many photography competitions including: “International Garden Photographer of the Year,” “Wanderlust Travel Photo of the Year,” “Take A View,” “National Insect Week (Riverfly Competition),” “Wild Shropshire Photography Competition,” “Keele 3 Counties Print Competition,” and more. In many of these competitions he managed to win first or second prize, while in others he was still highly commended for his efforts.
Although he was a highly successful wildlife photographer, he struggled with communication difficulties from a young age. At the age of 4, he was diagnosed with autism, but it would later be realized that he had Asperger syndrome. During his adult life, Beath was an advocate for individuals with Asperger syndrome and would discuss the condition publically.
He mentioned that Asperger syndrome was extremely difficult to cope with during childhood and teenage years due to the fact that others poked fun at him. In his college years, he was no longer bullied and became more comfortable with his diagnosis, realizing that it had functional advantages. Prior to his death, Beath worked with organizations such as: Autonomy Shropshire and Autism Cymru to help young people learn how to cope with Asperger syndrome.
Daniel Tammet: This is an autistic savant that exhibits talent in many fields, particularly writing and translation. He has published several non-fiction books including: “Born on a Blue Day” (2006), “Embracing the Wide Sky” (2009), and “Thinking in Numbers” (2012). His first publication “Born on a Blue Day” was dubbed “best book for young adults” by the American Library Association in 2008.
His second book “Embracing the Wide Sky” was a top selling book in France and all of his books have been published in over 20 languages. Throughout his childhood, he suffered from epilepsy and was eventually diagnosed with Asperger syndrome in his mid-20s. Tammet has participated in the “World Memory Championships,” was the basis for the documentary “Boy with the Incredible Brain,” and has given a TED Talk called “Different Ways of Knowing.”
He has been subject to significant neuroscientific research and reports that each number up to 10,000 is perceived within his brain as having a unique shape, color, texture, and feeling. As a result of his unique skill, he holds the world record for reciting “pi” (3.14…) from memory and was able to dictate 22,514 digits spanning over 5 hours. Tammet is fluent in over 10+ languages and has even created his own language Mänti – combining elements of Finnish and English.
In addition, Tammet has appeared on television programs including: “60 Minutes” and “The Late Show” to promote his books. He also runs the website “Optimnem” which was created to help people learn the languages French and Spanish. Daniel Tammet is clearly among the most accomplished autistic savants of all-time.
Daryl Hannah: She is a well-known actress that has starred in over 40 feature films. Examples of popular movies with Daryl Hannah include: “Splash” (1984), “Kill Bill Vol 1 & 2” (2003/2004), “Blade Runner” (1982), “Steel Magnolias” (1989), and “Roxanne” (1987). Although she’s had significant success as an actress in Hollywood and has made millions of dollars throughout her career, she’s also struggled with Asperger syndrome and social anxiety.
In interviews, she admitted that her mental illnesses got her “blacklisted” from Hollywood. She never wanted to interact socially with other people and avoided talk shows, movie premieres, award shows, and hated walking down the red carpet. Executives would call her for acting gigs, but she was too nervous to call them back and felt socially uncomfortable.
In addition, she would “rock herself” back and forth as a means of emotional soothing – this is common among those with Asperger syndrome. Despite her debilitating symptoms, Daryl worked hard to pursue her passion as an actress. She had been interested in movies from a young age and constantly honed her acting skills throughout her childhood and teenage years.
Eventually she would strike it big in Hollywood and be featured in numerous popular movies. Daryl Hannah is an example of someone with Asperger syndrome who managed to work hard, push her own limitations, and attain significant success. She also is an accomplished political activist and has proved that it is possible for individuals with Asperger syndrome to make a big difference in the world.
Dawn Prince-Hughes: She is a published author, anthropologist, and primatologist – with a doctorate degree from the University of Herisau in Switzerland. As a result of her expertise and credentials, she was selected to serve as adjunct professor at Western Washington University. Dawn Prince-Hughes is the executive chairman of the company “ApeNet, Inc.”
ApeNet is considered a company that supports connecting great apes with each other and serves to provide new living and communication solutions for great apes. In addition, she is affiliated with the Institute for Cognitive Archaeological Research, serving as executive director. Furthermore, she has authored a multitude of published works including: “The Archetype of the Ape-man” (2000), “Adam” (2001), and “Gorillas Among Us” (2001).
Prince-Huges was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome, and has written about the condition in several books including: “Songs of the Gorilla Nation: My Journey Through Autism” (2004) and “Passing as Human/Freak Nation” (2008). In the book “Songs of the Gorilla Nation,” she highlights various techniques she learned to cope with Asperger syndrome, specifically detailing that her work with gorillas helped with social isolation. It is clear that Prince-Hughes found her passion and learned how to thrive with Asperger syndrome.
Heather Kuzmich: Perhaps best known for her appearance on the show “America’s Next Top Model” (Cycle 9), Heather Kuzmich is a fashion model. As the show aired, it was made public that Kuzmich had been diagnosed with both Asperger syndrome at the age of 15, as well as ADHD. Although many people perceive beautiful models as having “perfect” lives, she has mentioned that it has been difficult for her to live with Asperger syndrome.
She specifically noted that it’s challenging to approach people and communicate properly with the condition. Although she didn’t win first place on the show, she ended up placing 5th. Growing up she had always been passionate about modeling and took a risk out of her comfort zone to try out for “America’s Next Top Model.”
Heather was considered extremely talented in photo shoots, but many believe that Asperger syndrome contributed to her elimination from the show due to poor verbal communication skills with others. She has since gone on to win 9 CoverGirl of the Week awards and has appeared on the cover of “Spectrum Magazine” (an autism magazine). To raise awareness for Asperger syndrome, she has appeared on “Good Morning America” and been featured in an article within the New York Times.
Henry Bond: This is an English writer and photographer who publically stated that he has been diagnosed with Asperger syndrome. Bond has participated in CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) and psychoanalysis to learn how to effectively cope with and understand his diagnosis. Bond has authored various notable non-fiction works including: “The Gaze of the Lens” and “Lacan at the Scene.”
In addition, he has contributed an array of photography monographs including: “Interiors Series” (2005), “What gets you through the day” (2002), “Point and Shoot” (2000), “La vie quotidienne” (1999), and several others. He is also considered a professional in visual arts, art exhibitions, and street photography. Bond is also college-educated with a doctorate degree from the University of Gloucestershire.
Despite his diagnosis of Asperger syndrome, Bond has managed to collaborate with a variety of other artists including Sarah Lucas, Damien Hirst, Liam Gillick, and Angela Bulloch. He is credited as preeminent organizer of the “East Country Yard Show” which spurred the “Young British Artists” movement. Bond remains a highly-accomplished and widely recognized individual who didn’t let his diagnosis of Asperger syndrome deter him from the pursuit of his passions.
James Durbin: Those who watch the popular TV show American Idol are familiar with James Durbin. He appeared on Season 10 of the show, showcasing his singing and guitar skills, and ended up finishing in 4th place. While many people know that James was diagnosed with Tourette syndrome, it is lesser known that he was also diagnosed with Asperger syndrome.
In addition to dealing with personal hardships associated with his neurological diagnoses, his father died of a heroin overdose when James was just 9 years old. Despite these challenges for James, he sought out music as his passion. As a child, he enrolled in a non-traditional school called “Musicschool” which emphasized music more than other subjects.
From a young age, James had joined a theater group called “Kids on Broadway” and played a number of leading roles in various plays including: “Grease,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “West Side Story,” and “Sweet Charity.” Durbin would eventually be a singer in the band “Hollywood Scars” as well as “Whatever Fits. Since his appearance on American Idol, he has been featured on “The Tonight Show,” “Live with Regis and Kelly,” “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon,” and “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.”
James has since gone on to release solo albums entitled “Memories of a Beautiful Disaster” and “Celebrate” which have sold thousands of copies. He also went on to marry (Heidi Lowe) and have multiple children. James has proved that he is able to cope with both Asperger syndrome and Tourette syndrome and attain significant success in the music industry.
Jason Zimmerman: Most people know Jason Zimmerman as “Mew2King” (M2K), his gamertag pseudonym. Many regard Jason as being among the best competitive gamers of all time for the Super Smash Bros. series. He has a highly successful track record with over 70 tournament wins throughout his lifetime and is the second in all-time earnings derived from Super Smash Bros. Melee competitions.
He first entered competitive gaming tournaments as a teenager in 2005, and is considered to have develop his talent mostly from hard work, practice, and studying the professionals. Zimmerman was sponsored for 7 years by Empire Arcadia (EMP), but eventually left the sponsorship due to payment issues. He has also been sponsored by CLASH Tournaments and Play-For-Keeps.
In addition to his professional gaming success, he managed to attain an associate’s degree in game design and computer science. Many may not know that he has been diagnosed with Asperger syndrome, ADHD, as well as OCD, and credits gaming as an outlet for his improved social skills. Zimmerman is co-owner of Most Valuable Gaming – a tournament organizing company for gamers.
Jerry Newport: This is an autistic savant that excels in mathematic calculations. In 2010, he managed to win 4 events at the Mental Calculation World Cup and was considered the “Most Versatile Calculator.” His life is considered the basis for the movie “Mozart and the Whale” (2005), featuring a New York taxi driver with Asperger syndrome.
In addition, he is a published author with several books including: “Mozart and the Whale: An Asperger’s Love Story” (2007), “Autism-Asperger’s & Sexuality: Puberty and Beyond” (2002), and “Your Life is Not a Label” (2001). He also is married to Mary Meinel, an actress that appeared in Star Trek who also has Asperger syndrome and is considered an autistic savant. Mainel is co-author with Jerry of various aforementioned books including “Mozart and the Whale.”
Jerry is a graduate from the University of Michigan with a degree in mathematics, and has engaged in public speaking to raise awareness for autism. He has even appeared on the CBS show “60 Minutes” for an interview.” Most consider him a well-accomplished, highly successful individual with Asperger syndrome that has made numerous beneficial contributions to humanity.
John Elder Robison: This is an accomplished author who is perhaps best known for his memoir “Look Me in the Eye” (2007), which went on to become a bestseller. In this book, he discusses his personal experiences living with Asperger syndrome, as well as his savant abilities. Robison is an autism rights activist, suggesting that individuals diagnosed with the condition add to the neurodiversity of humanity.
He is the son of Margaret Robinson (a poet) and John G. Robinson (head of the philosophy department at University of Massachusetts Amherst). Like John Elder Robison, both his mother (Margaret) and father (John) were diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders. His brother Augusten Burroughs is a writer and is known for the memoir “Running with Scissors” – a New York Times bestseller.
Other popular books authored by John Elder Robison include: “Be Different” (2012) and “Raising Cubby” (2014). In addition to his work as a writer, John is also a public speaker and autism consultant. It is evident that he has managed to make a positive difference in the world via his literary works, speaking engagements, and consulting practice.
Johnny Dean: This is a British musician well known as the lead singer-songwriter for the 1990s pop band Menswear. In his earliest years as a musician, he was featured in the music video for the song “Do You Remember the First Time” by Pulp. Later, he founded the band Menswear in 1994 along with Stuart Black.
The band would release 2 studio albums including: “Nuisance” (1995) and “Hay Tempo” (1998). Nuisance would reach number 11 on the UK charts and songs “Daydreamer,” “Stardust,” and “Sleeping In” would reach the UK Top 25 singles of 1995. In 1996 the songs “Being Brave” and “We Love You” would go on to also reach the Top 25 singles.
Menswear would go on worldwide tour and were featured in a variety of popular 1990s magazines. In 2008, Johnny Dean was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome and has since gone on to help with campaigns for National Autistic Society. Although Johnny is perceived mostly as a successful musician, many fail to realize the functional hardships and obstacles that he’s had to overcome as a result of Asperger syndrome.
Ladyhawke: Phillipa “Pip” Brown is an indie rock musician who is best known under the stage name Ladyhawke. As a child, Ladyhawke plagued with a multitude of health problems including erysipeloid, a condition that doctors attempted to treat with antibiotics. However, she was allergic to antibiotics and nearly ended up in a coma as a result of these allergies.
In addition to general health issues, she was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome. She believes that the substantial amount of time she spent listening to music during childhood was a byproduct of Asperger’s. At one point she locked herself in her house for 3 consecutive months because she had trouble coping with the condition.
Ladyhawke has made it clear that her Asperger syndrome has been difficult for her to live with. She was quoted as saying, “You have no idea what I’ve been through” – in reference to her diagnosis. Despite her diagnosis, Ladyhawke has managed to become a successful artist with albums “Ladyhawke” (2008) and “Anxiety” (2012).
Liane Holliday Willey: She is perhaps best known as a bestselling international author, but is also a motivational speaker, and businesswoman. Holliday Willey has authored various books including: “Safety Skills for Asperger Women” (2011), “Pretending to be Normal” (1999), “Asperger Syndrome in the Family” (2001), and “Adolescents and Asperger Syndrome in the Adolescent Years” (2003). In addition to her work as an author, she is college educated with a doctorate degree in Education.
In 1999, Holliday Willey was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome, and has written about her experiences and shared insights in her books. She is regarded as the first woman to write an autobiographical account of living with Asperger syndrome and the first to coin the term “Aspie” – referring to an individual diagnosed with the condition. Additionally, she is an editor for “Autism Spectrum Quarterly” and serves as a board member for the Asperger Society of Michigan.
Holliday Willey is an official consultant at the company Brains Potential, LLC – which provides assessments, counseling, physical therapy, and speech therapy to those with autism. This is a prime example of a woman who has maintained a highly productive lifestyle and successful career with Asperger syndrome.
Lizzy Clark: This is an English actress who is most widely recognized for her portrayal of “Poppy” in the BBC television film Dustbin Baby. The fictional character of “Poppy” in Dustbin Baby is a teenager diagnosed with Asperger syndrome, a condition that Clark also has in real life. She is considered the first actress with Asperger syndrome to ever portray a character with the same diagnosis.
She attained the gig as an actress on Dustbin Baby via an advertisement on an autism website. Reflecting upon her experience, Clark stated that initially the role was “intimidating” and that Asperger syndrome made certain things on the set difficult to cope with such as sudden, startling noises. Many believe the fact that BBC recruited someone with a legitimate Asperger syndrome diagnosis to play a character with the same condition, improved the accuracy and credibility of the movie.
In addition to being an advocate for those with Asperger syndrome, Clark is involved in a campaign for both physically and mentally disabled actors who often are overlooked in favor of non-disabled actors. She believes that non-disabled actors attempting to portray individuals with disabilities in movies often fail to do the disability justice. It is evident that Clark has learned how to cope with Asperger syndrome and managed to make numerous positive contributions to the world.
Luke Jackson: This is a published author who is perhaps best known for his book “Freaks, Geeks, and Asperger Syndrome: A User Guide to Adolescence.” He wrote the book based on his own first-hand experiences as a teenager with Asperger syndrome. Other books written by Luke include: “A User Guide to the GF/CF Diet for Autism, Asperger Syndrome, and ADHD” (2001), “Asperger Syndrome in the Adolescent Years” (2003), “Multicolored Mayhem” (2003), and “Crystalline Lifetime” (2006).
Jackson grew up with two brothers, one of which had been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, and the other with ADHD. Luke’s entire family was featured on a BBC2 documentary entitled “My Family and Autism” (2003). As a 14-year old, Luke guides the BBC2 producers through their family life, interactions, and discussed their dietary habits in effort to improve certain symptoms.
He also has made a guest appearance on BBC Radio 4’s show “Home Truths.” In addition to publishing a variety of books, Luke Jackson runs a blog to help others at LukeJacksonAutism.com. Luke is an example of an individual with Autism who has raised significant awareness as well as endeavored to help improve the quality of life for others with Asperger syndrome.
Michael Burry: Most people know Michael Burry as a hedge fund titan and founder of Scion Capital LLC. He is known for operating the hedge fund Scion Capital from 2000 until 2008 and is regarded as one of the earliest investors to predict the subprime mortgage crisis. Burry went on to write a book about the topic entitled “The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine” (2010).
It is estimated that Burry managed to earn over $100 million for himself and over $700 million for investors with his risk-averse, high-value investment decisions. He is college educated with an economics degree from the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) and a medicine degree from Vanderbilt University. Burry has been formally diagnosed with Asperger syndrome and is married with children; his son also has Asperger syndrome.
Burry’s life story is set to be depicted in the film “The Big Short,” directed by Adam McKay and starring Christian Bale. Burry has described himself as an “outsider” and when in social situations he feels as if he’s always “analyzing the group” rather than participating in it. Most people can only dream to hone the investing prowess of Burry.
Paddy Considine: This is an English actor, director, and screenwriter who has been diagnosed with Asperger syndrome. He has been featured as an actor and/or director in popular films such as: “Hot Fuzz” (2007), “Tyrannosaur” (2011), “Dead Man’s Shoes” (2004), “Pride” (2014), “The Bourne Ultimatum” (2007), and many more. His career flourished after 2000 when he was featured in an array of independent movies and was dubbed “the best kept secret in British movies” by The Observer.
As a result of his talent in the film industry, he was awarded: a BAFTA Award, British Independent Film Award, an Empire Award, an Evening Standard British Film Award, and a Thessaloniki Film Festival Award, and several others. In addition to his acting career, he’s been featured in various music videos including “God Put a Smile Upon Your Face” by Coldplay and “Leave Before the Lights Come On” by Arctic Monkeys. Considine also has a bachelor’s degree from University of Brighton in photography.
Upon receiving his diagnosis of Asperger syndrome at the age of 36, Considine suggested that a label for his problem has been beneficial, allowing him to understand his behaviors. Many wouldn’t have suspected that he has Asperger syndrome due to the fact that he is funny, like to make others laugh, and acts normal. Considine is another example of a high functioning actor with the condition.
Penelope Trunk: This is a popular writer (blogger and author) who is responsible for works such as: “Brazen Careerist: New Rules for Success” (2007), “The New American Dream” (2012), and “The Power of Mentors” (2012). She also runs a personal blog at PenelopeTrunk.com, aiming to provide career advice to others. Furthermore, she established the company Quistic which endeavors to help people find their best career path, and helps them discover the things they should be learning (based on particular careers).
Formerly, she has established a variety of companies including: Math.com, ECityDeals, and Brazen Careerist. She served as a marketing executive for over a decade for various software companies. In the past, she blogged for Brazen Careerist, and has contributed columns to companies such as: Bankrate, Boston Globe, Business 2.0, Fortune Magazine, and Yahoo! Finance.
Details of her career have been discussed within Time Magazine, as well as The Guardian. Trunk has admitted to having been diagnosed with Asperger syndrome as an adult. Penelope Trunk is another example of a high performing businesswoman and writer with the condition.
Peter Howson: This is a Scottish painter who is best known for his work as a war artist. He started painting at the age of 6, depicting a crucifixion. Howson served a short stint as a soldier in the Royal Highland Fusiliers, but would eventually depart to pursue education as an artist at the Glasgow School of Art.
Throughout his career as an artist, he produced a variety of famous works including: “The Heroic Dosser” (1987), “Blind Leading the Blind” (1991), “Plum Grove” (1994), and “Judas” (2002). At one point he was dubbed the official war artist by the Imperial War Museum of London and was responsible for depicting Bosnia/Herzegovina facing Serbia and Croatia in 1993. He was also considered the official war painter for the London Times’ depiction of the Kosovo War.
Much of his work is explicit and portrays the harsh realities of war including: brawls, torture, rape, and more. Though clearly a prolific artist, Howson has had his own personal battles with Asperger syndrome, alcoholism, depression, and drug addiction. A documentary entitled “The Madness of Peter Howson” (2010) portrays his psychological struggle to produce art while simultaneously coping with addictions.
In 2009 he was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome and considers himself “lucky to be alive.” He also has a daughter who was diagnosed with autism, and has participated in charity walks to raise awareness for the condition. Clearly Peter has had to overcome a lot of obstacles throughout his life, and many believe that his personal battles have contributed to his brilliance as an artist.
Raymond Thompson: The screenwriter, composer, and producer Raymond Thompson is known for his success in both the music and TV industry. He was affiliated with the groups “Stillwater” and “Edison Lighthouse” – a group responsible for the 1970 UK one-hit-wonder song “Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes).” This song remained a number one hit for a span of 5 weeks in the UK, and attained a top 5 ranking on the U.S. Billboard charts.
In 1979, Thompson published the book “The Number to Call Is…” and eventually became a script consultant for producers. He has written for various TV shows including Squadron and Howards’ Way, and worked with BBC TV as Head of Development to produce a variety of other shows such as Bergerac and The House of Eliott. Eventually he established his own production company called “Cloud 9 Screen Entertainment Group,” focused specifically on family entertainment material.
Thompson would eventually create a variety of TV series and movies including: “The Adventures of Swiss Family Robinson,” “The Legend of William Tell,” and “William Shatner’s A Twist in the Tale.” The most popular of his developments is the show “The Tribe,” a science-fiction show with nearly 300 episodes. It is publically known that Thompson was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome, as was his son.
He has since gone on to establish the “Cloud 9’s Children Foundation,” which provides support to individuals with Asperger syndrome. Thompson’s success has lead him to serve as an International Emmy Awards juror and to receive honors from Queen Elizabeth II for his work in television. Though he has Asperger syndrome, he has managed to figure out how to cope with the condition to attain success.
Satoshi Tajiri: This is a Japanese video game designer, highly acclaimed for his creation of the game Pokémon. Throughout his childhood, his primary hobby was collecting bugs and insects and was given the nickname “Mr. Bug” by his classmates. Initially, he wanted to become an entomologist (a specialist in studying insects).
As a teenager, Tajiri had focused less on bugs and more on playing video games. His obsession with gaming became so extreme that he would skip high school class to focus on his gaming. He would purchase gaming systems such as the Famicom and disassemble them to see how they worked. At the time, he wanted to understand how the games worked so that he could create his own.
Though not officially confirmed, many reports suggest that Tajiri has been diagnosed with Asperger syndrome, resulting in reclusive tendencies and eccentric behavior. Despite his alleged diagnosis, he has a successful career as a game developer with Nintendo and has founded the company Game Freak, Inc. He also publishes his own gaming magazine entitled “Game Freak” for fellow gamers.
Susan Boyle: Most people know Susan Boyle from her appearance on the TV show “Britain’s Got Talent.” On the show she sang the tune “I Dreamed a Dream” from from Les Misérables – impressing the judges and viewers. Footage of her appearance on the show went viral due to the fact that no one expected a modest looking, middle-aged woman to have an impressive singing voice.
What some people don’t know is that Boyle struggled extensively with Asperger syndrome during her childhood. She initially suspected that she was born without sufficient oxygen to facilitate normative brain development, resulting in a learning disability. A 2013 analysis suggested that she actually had above-average intelligence and Asperger syndrome.
During her childhood, she was ridiculed by other kids and dubbed “Susie Simple” by fellow classmates. Although she endured significant bullying, Susan was able to weather the storm and cultivate her talent as a musician. After less than 2 weeks of her appearance on “Britain’s Got Talent,” a video of her singing “Cry Me a River” was viewed over 100 million times.
Following her second place finish on the show, Susan’s debut album “I Dreamed a Dream” was released in 2009. This album reached number one on the charts and became the top selling debut album of all time in the United Kingdom. In 2010, she released a second album entitled “The Gift,” which attained number one on both United Kingdom and United States album charts.
She would eventually release a third album “Someone to Watch Over Me” in 2011. In total, her album sales have exceeded 19 million copies and her net worth now exceeds £22 million. Susan is a prime example of an individual who dealt with bullying and other functional deficits associated with Asperger’s, but has clearly figured out a way to thrive.
Syed Talha Ahsan: He is a British poet and translator, and has managed to win platinum and bronze “Koestler Awards” in 2012 for his poetry. Syed is considered the translator of the 10th century Arabic poem entitled “Above the Dust.” His poetry has been recognized by authors such as A.L. Kennedy and is widely regarded as impressive.
On a darker note, he was accused of participating in terrorist-related acts and has dealt with a variety of legal repercussions. Syed was detained by British legal officials for 6 years and extradited to the United States in 2012 where he pleaded guilty, and was sentenced to solitary confinement. His extradition stirred up significant controversy in the UK, especially due to the fact that he has Asperger’s syndrome.
Another individual named Garry McKinnon was in a similar situation, and was not extradited due to the fact that he had Asperger’s. However, Syed was extradited and had to cope with a relatively rocky transition to the United States. Although Syed managed to cultivate significant talent in poetry and translation and attain fame, he is perhaps more famous for his terrorism trial.
Tim Ellis: This is an Australian magician and illusionist who is well known in the world of magic. He was introduced to magic at the age of 9 and by the age of 14 was participating in the “Magic Circle of Victoria” based in Australia; he is the youngest magician to have ever participated in this circle. Within just two years of participation, he had won multiple awards and has since gone on to win many more.
By 1980 he was dubbed the “Best Under 18 Magician of Australia,” and within just 6 years, he had created a magic festival entitled “National Magic Week.” He has since gone on to publish magazines, lecture notes, and books including: “Australian Magic Monthly,” “The Magic Circular,” “The Secret Diary of Tim Ellis,” and “Timeless Magic.” Ellis also created a variety of magic videos and DVDs including: “Cunning Stunts,” “Ellis in Wonderland,” and “Ellis & Webster’s Most Amazing Magic.”
Although many people regard Ellis as being among the most accomplished Australian magicians of all time, few people know that he was formally diagnosed with Asperger syndrome. It is clear that Ellis was so engrossed in his passion of magic, that his diagnosis didn’t hold him back. Ellis is a prime example of someone with Asperger syndrome who went on to make numerous contributions to the world via his lectures, performances, videos, and writings in the field of magic.
Tim Page: This is a writer, editor, producer, and professor who won a Pulitzer Prize as a music critic. He has authored a variety of notable works including: “William Kapell: An Illustrated Life History of the American Pianist” (1992), “Dawn Powell: A Biography” (1998), “Glenn Gould: A Life in Pictures” (2002), “Tim Page on Music” (2002), and “Carnegie Hall Treasures” (2011). In the year 1967, he served as the basis for a documentary entitled “A Day With Timmy Page,” discussing his filmmaking interests.
It wasn’t until 2007 that Tim Page admitted publically via The New Yorker that he had been diagnosed with Asperger syndrome. His diagnosis motivated him to write a book called “Parallel Play: Growing Up with Undiagnosed Asperger’s” (2009) which detailed his experience with the condition. Despite challenges Page endured as a result of his Asperger syndrome, he managed to graduate with a college degree from Columbia University and have a highly successful career.
During his time in college, he hosted a music radio show on “WKCR” and would eventually host an interview show with the FM station “WNYC.” As host of the show, he managed to interview artists such as: Aaron Copland, Philip Glass, Steve Reich, and Virgil Thompson. He also worked a variety of writing jobs including: for the magazine Soho News, for The New York Times in the 1980s, and eventually for The Washington Post in the 1990s.
In addition to his impeccable Pulitzer Prize-winning music criticism, he served as an editor for a variety of books including: “The Hip Pocket Guide to New York” (1982), “The Glenn Gould Reader” (1984), “Selected Letters of Virgil Thompson” (1988), “Dawn Powell at Her Best” (1994), “Dawn Powell: Novels” (2001), and more. He would eventually leave The Washington Post to become a journalist and music professor at the University of Southern California.
Travis Meeks: This is the lead singer and guitarist from the American acoustic rock band “Days of the New.” From a young age, Travis was passionate about music and began working at a music store. By the age of 9 he was playing guitar and he would eventually get his start by performing at a variety of clubs.
He started a heavy metal band in 1994 called “Dead Reckoning” and in 1995, he changed the band name to “Days of the New.” Although he had a recording contract and was making a living as a successful musician, he also was living with Asperger syndrome. Asperger syndrome made it difficult for Travis to deal with fans and the fame that accompanied his musical success.
He also dealt with may behavioral problems and frequently started fights because he felt socially uncomfortable around others. As a result of these problematic behaviors, he was wrongfully misdiagnosed with conditions like: ADHD, bipolar disorder, manic depressive, paranoia disorder, and more. It wasn’t until 2005 that he was properly diagnosed with Asperger syndrome and began to understand how he was different from others.
Throughout his career he was addicted to opioids, alcohol, methamphetamine – and made an appearance on the TV show “Intervention” in attempt to overcome his addiction. Following a stay at an addiction treatment center, he remained sober for a period of time. Travis is an example of an individual who followed his passion and attained success, while simultaneously facing challenges associated with Asperger syndrome.
Vernon L. Smith: This is an economics professor who was a co-winner of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 2002. He teaches economics at Chapman University and is a research scholar at George Mason University. Smith also is the president (and founder) of the International Foundation for Research in Experimental Economics.
He attained a doctorate degree in economics from Harvard in 1955 and also holds a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Caltech. Smith has produced notable works including: “Papers in Experimental Economics” (1991) and “Bargaining and Market Behavior” (2000). He is known for petitioning against the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and also has a prize (The Vernon Smith Prize for Advancement of Austrian Economics) named in his honor.
In 2005, Smith self-diagnosed himself with Asperger syndrome, and believes that his personality and mannerisms are fitting of the diagnosis. Assuming his self-diagnosis is accurate, he can be considered yet another well-known public figure with the condition.
Note: Since Asperger syndrome is classified as a form of autism spectrum disorder, individuals diagnosed solely with autism were not included on this list. To learn about celebrities diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, check out the list “Famous People with Autism.”
Bottom line: Individuals with Asperger Syndrome are often high performers
It is important to acknowledge that Asperger syndrome can be associated with above average intelligence and high performance. Many celebrities and famous public figures credit Asperger syndrome as being the overarching force behind their passion and career success. The advantages associated with Asperger syndrome are often overlooked by the general public, but can include: passionate focus (on a specific interest), self-discipline, and rigid routines to facilitate success.
It is also necessary to understand that while there may be certain advantages associated with Asperger syndrome, there are also often substantial disadvantages. These disadvantages include: minimal social skills, awkward social behaviors, and limited interaction with fans. Despite the discomfort stemming from Asperger syndrome, famous people with the condition have developed coping strategies for dealing with the stress.
The success among those with Asperger syndrome is not limited to one specific niche either. Famous people with the condition have excelled as: actors, artists, authors, bloggers, businessmen, consultants, economists, investors, photographers, politicians, public speakers, magicians, models, musicians, and more. Learning that others have been successful with the condition may serve as inspiration for those who are newly diagnosed.
Which famous people with Asperger syndrome do you find most inspiring?
Among the individuals included on the aforementioned list, which person (or people) do you find most inspiring? Feel free to share a comment below discussing why you find a particular individual to be exceptionally inspirational. If you have been diagnosed with Asperger syndrome, is it comforting to know that famous people have opened up about their diagnoses?