Each diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder is unique to each and every individual. Traditionally, the topic of autism has been taboo. But autism is often misunderstood.
There are so many incredible individuals living with autism that have gone on to become famous in their respective fields. Some of our most distinguished scientists, musicians, artists and performers have had an autism diagnosis — and become advocates for others on the spectrum.
Here are a list of some of the most influential people that are on the autism spectrum.
One of our favorite Ghostbusters was diagnosed at a young age, and his behavior was often mistaken as defiance. In an interview with Daily Mail, Aykroyd explained how his diagnosis greatly contributed to the creation of the legendary film. “One of my symptoms included my obsession with ghosts and law enforcement -- I carry around a police badge with me, for example. I became obsessed by Hans Holzer, the greatest ghost hunter ever. That’s when the idea of my film Ghostbusters was born."
This renowned actor and writer went on to win academy awards and was nominated several times for his roles in television and cinema.
Miss Montana 2012 refused to let her diagnosis of autism define her.
“If anyone had told me then that I would be wearing a crown, an evening gown, heels and a swimsuit in front of a live audience with bright lights and television cameras hovering around, I'd have been the first one to dismiss it.”
Alexis Wineman was diagnosed at age 11 and wrestled with bullying throughout her younger years. As she entered high school, with the help of her parents and peers she succeeded both academically and socially. Eventually, she made the decision to enter the pageant: her ultimate challenge.
In 2012, she became the first contestant diagnosed with autism — and was eventually crowned Miss Montana. She is now a devoted autism advocate.
You may remember Susan Boyle from her inspiring rise to fame on “Britain's Got Talent” back in 2009. Her performance was breathtaking, and she went on to become an international sensation.
She grew up with a diagnosis of brain damage — a label she despised and didn’t fully understand. Finally, a correct diagnosis of ASD gave her much relief and understanding of her obstacles.
Temple Grandin is often considered one of the most accomplished and influential living persons with autism. Grandin received a Ph.D in Animal Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana. She currently is an assistant professor at the Colorado State University.
Grandin grew up unable to speak and with sensory issues. As a child she was already showing signs of self innovation — building her own “squeeze machine” to help cope with sensory difficulties. Her story is revolutionary and nothing short of extraordinary. She is truly an inspiration to all people with autism.
John Elder Robison
An outspoken and involved member of the autism community, Robison has become a celebrated author of his experiences living on the ASD spectrum. His memoir published in 2007, Look Me in the Eye was an instant bestseller. Over the years he has continued to write incredible works, along with speaking and advocating for all peoples on the spectrum.
His active participation on many boards and committees, such as: National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control, Autism Speaks and many more, has made a monumental impact on policies and research regarding ASD.
“The more I learned about autism and Asperger’s, the more I realized how diverse this autism spectrum really is. Science has identified a number of traits that tie us all together, yet on the surface we could not possibly look more different. There is no such thing as a “typical autistic person.”
Autism diagnosis aren’t uncommon today. Roughly 1 in 59 children fall on the autism spectrum. But because it is a spectrum, these numbers are more than likely an undercount of autism’s actual prevalence. History is full of people who many consider to be or have been somewhere on the autism spectrum — their struggles and behaviors were often misunderstood. But there is no mistaking that those who think differently, change the world for the better.