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21 Famous people with autism: neurospicy superpower

Julia Ovcharenko, CEO of Numo
February 6, 2024

Buh bah? Wait, why we’re here. Isn’t this blog for:

NUMO.SO - THE ALL-IN-ONE ADHD PLANNER AND  COMMUNITY APP FOR PEOPLE WITH ADHD, DOWNLOAD NOW ON APP STORE AND ANDROID?

…sorry, something has gotten into me right now.

But yeah, why are we talking about people with autism? Well, both for proper reasons as well as misconceptions, ADHD and autism love to walk hand-in-hand from time to time. 

Why’s that exactly? Funny that you’d ask because I just got the answers for you here. 

Today, we will talk a little bit about why ADHD and autism are so often clumped together. Still, much more importantly…we’ll talk all about some exciting, innovative, and talented famous people with autism.

Sooooooo…let’s dig in! 

[ADHD and Autism Connection] ADHD and autism: common traits and differences

At first glance, ADHD and autism might seem like distant relatives, but they share more than you might think. Let's dive into what unites and separates them.

Shared Traits

Both ADHD and autism present challenges that can make daily life a complex puzzle. 

These include:

  • Struggles with Executive Functioning: Tasks that require planning and organization can feel like climbing a mountain.
  • Navigating Social Interactions: Understanding social cues is like trying to read a book in a language you're still learning.
  • Sensory Processing Quirks: The world can sometimes feel overwhelmingly loud or bright.

And there's more! 

Both ADHDers and those with autism experience intense focus, although it manifests differently. 

For ADHD, it's the hyperfocus that can make you lose track of time. In autism, deep dives into special interests can turn a hobby into a passion.

Distinct Challenges

While they share similarities, ADHD and autism are also not exactly what they seem to be. 

ADHD's Hallmarks are impulsivity, a body that is always on the go, and a mind that often forgets where it left the keys.

Autism, on the other hand, is more about challenges in social communications, making small talk a herculean feat while repetitive behaviors become the safe space. 

Understanding these nuances is key to providing the proper support and embracing the full spectrum of neurodiversity.

Larger implications for us, ADHDers

Okay, so now we know that ADHD can seem like autism from a distance, but it also isn’t that. So, what gives?

Well, talking about autism in our context is valuable nonetheless, first, because of the comorbidities being a thing.

Secondly, these neurodivergences resonate with one another, and when we empower one side, we empower the other.

And speaking of that…let’s look at the prime time of today’s article - the list of many talented folks that have (or are suspected to have) autism. 

Might just give you an inspo for an ADHD career of choice, eh? 

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves here! 

[Autistic actors] Autistic actors

So, one of the more common symptoms associated with the autism spectrum is trouble reading social cues and navigating social interactions. Nonetheless, actors with this craft that seemingly rely on all of that don’t seem like a rare occurrence. 

How’s that?  

Well, actors with autism bring a distinct perspective to their performances. Their ability to hyper-focus on details can result in incredibly nuanced portrayals, often capturing the hearts of audiences worldwide. 

By embracing their autism, these actors challenge the traditional norms of the industry, showcasing a range of emotions and characters that might have remained unexplored by neurotypical actors.

Anthony Hopkins

Better known as Hannibal Lecter or - for the younger grasshoppers - as Odin from MCU, Hopkins is an actor of unparalleled depth and versatility, able to shapeshift from an unsettling cannibal to an endearing father figure seemingly on a whim. 

The late autism diagnosis probably came as a shock, including to the actor himself. Although he’s been a bit…skeptical about it, it’s hard to deny that there was always something special about Mr.Hopkins that gave him an incredible advantage in his craft.

From Hannibal Lecter in "The Silence of the Lambs" to his Academy Award-winning role in "The Father," exemplifies how his unique neurology enhances his work. 

For your consideration: more actors with autism

  • Daryl Hannah: Among actresses with autism, it'd hard not to highlight Mrs.Hannah, known for her roles in "Splash" and "Kill Bill," Hannah was diagnosed with autism as a child. She has spoken about the challenges she faced in the industry due to her condition and how she's learned to adapt, becoming a role model for aspiring actors with autism.
  • Dan Aykroyd: The "Ghostbusters" star was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome, a form of autism, as a child. Aykroyd has credited his condition for his vivid imagination, greatly contributing to his success in acting and writing.
  • Paddy Considine: The British actor and director, known for his roles in "Hot Fuzz" and "The Outsider," was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome in his 30s. He's spoken about how the diagnosis helped him understand his experiences and how it influences his approach to characters.
  • Mickey Rowe: Rowe, the first actor with autism to play Christopher in "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time," has been vocal about the importance of autistic representation in the arts.

Young celebrities with autism

Let’s give the credit where it’s due to millennials and Gen Z: these two generations have managed to normalize being open about one’s diagnosis, be it ADHD, autism, or anything else. 

With that pioneering achievement comes the shattering of stereotypes. Instead of conformity and fitting the mold of archetypes and expectations, we keep seeing more and more people with fresh perspectives who are not afraid to hide them! So, what about these celebrities with autism that are breaking the mold?

Greta Thurnberg

It would probably be impossible to talk about young celebs with autism and not mention Greta Thurnberg, especially with her winning TIME’s Person of the Year and all. 

Greta is a renowned environmental activist who has been quite vocal about her Asperger’s syndrome from the beginning. And, once again, it’s probably the way of thinking and directness stemming from that which contributed to Greta’s success.

After all, her activism had a low-key beginning when she asked her parents to drive her to where she could do her solo piquet and then pick her back. What might have felt “embarassing” for neurotypicals came naturally to Greta. And this unabashed sincerity eventually led to success and prominence. 

More bright youngins

  • Madison Tevlin: Known for her viral singing videos, Tevlin, who has Down syndrome and autism, has captured hearts worldwide. Her musical talent and determination reshape how people view the capabilities of individuals with neurodiversity in the performing arts.
  • Kaylee Rodgers: Rodgers, a singer who gained fame for her rendition of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah," has used her voice to transcend the barriers posed by autism. Her performances are a testament to the power of music in expressing emotions and connecting with others.
  • Jacob Barnett: Once told he might never speak or read, Barnett, a child prodigy in mathematics and physics, has defied all odds. His story is a powerful reminder that autism can accompany extraordinary talents and cognitive abilities.

[Famous women with autism] Famous women with autism

Much like ADHD in women, autism is something that has been historically overlooked in women. One reason is that symptoms in women often differ from those in men.

The other is that women, unfortunately, have to become quite adept at masking their symptoms, a skill that can temporarily help but probably be more detrimental long term. So, let’s give an extra, e x t r a 💅 round of applause for the brave voices that normalize being open about being women with autism. 

Susan Boyle

Okay, so have you heard about Susan Boyle? You know, the lady who stunned everyone on 'Britain's Got Talent'? Turns out, she was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome as an adult. It's pretty amazing how she's handled everything. Despite getting diagnosed late and dealing with all the eyes on her, she's been rocking it with her incredible voice and sheer determination.

Boyle even admitted once that she sought a diagnosis herself because she felt like there was something wrong with her, but she did not know what.

Much like Mr.Hopkins above - hope you didn’t skip through the article 💢 - Susan is an example of a late autism diagnosis who managed to persevere and succeed because of her condition. 

Some more queens who slayed 👑

There's Temple Grandin – she's like a superstar in the autism and animal science worlds. Grandin has wholly transformed how livestock is handled thanks to her unique innovations. And guess what? She says her autism, which lets her think in pictures, played a massive part in her success. She's also out there, tirelessly advocating for autism awareness. Truly inspiring, right?

And Heather Kuzmich! She was on 'America's Next Top Model.' Heather's been open about her life with Asperger's Syndrome, especially in an industry as intense as modeling. She's not just striking poses; she's using her voice to shed light on the spectrum, showing the challenges and strengths of it.

[Autistic musicians] Autistic musicians

Musicians with autism often experience music in a deeply profound way. Their heightened sensory perception can create a unique appreciation and understanding of sound, rhythm, and melody.

Derek Paravicini

Imagine being able to play any music piece after just one listen. That's Derek Paravicini for you – a blind, autistic musical genius. His piano skills are nothing short of jaw-dropping. He can take any tune, flip, twist, and play it back in any style you can think of. Derek's story is a powerful testament to the awe-inspiring capabilities of neurodiverse musicians.

Hikari Ōe

Now, let's talk about Hikari Ōe. Ōe, crafts compositions that touch the soul, weaving in emotions and a sense of harmony that's so intricate and delicate. His music explores human emotion and is a beautiful representation of how autism can add depth and sensitivity to musical expression.

Stephen Wiltshire

Stephen Wiltshire is a man of many talents. Known globally for his incredibly detailed cityscape drawings, he also channels his creativity through music. Stephen's approach to music mirrors his art – capturing and reproducing sounds with astounding accuracy and deep emotion.

[Autistic comedians] Autistic comedians

Comedy has this incredible knack for turning the serious into the seriously funny. When it comes to autistic comedians, they’re not just cracking jokes; they're opening windows into their world. They blend wit, wisdom, and a touch of the unexpected, giving us a hilarious yet insightful look into life with autism.

Hannah Gadsby

Enter Hannah Gadsby, whose show "Nanette" flipped the script on traditional comedy. She's not just a comedian; she's a storyteller, an artist who paints her life experiences with a humorous brush. Living with autism, Hannah doesn't shy away from the tough stuff. Instead, she invites us in, challenging how we think about comedy and autism, all while making us laugh and think.

Samuel J. Comroe

Then there's Samuel J. Comroe, a stand-up comic who's as honest as he is funny. Sure, he'll crack you up with tales of living with Tourette syndrome, but he's also upfront about his autism journey. Sam's humor is like a light in the dark, shining on neurodiversity and teaching us a thing or two between the chuckles.

Michael McCreary

Last but not least, Michael McCreary steps up to the mic. This guy is a comedic maestro with a mission. As an autistic comedian and author of "Funny, You Don't Look Autistic," Michael shares the ups, downs, and in-betweens of autism life. His stand-up routines and writing break down barriers, one laugh at a time, showing the world that autism has its own brand of humor.

[Historical figures with autism] Historical figures with autism

Just because the diagnosis and definition are quite recent, that’s not to say that the concept itself is a novelty. 

Although we may only speculate to a degree, if we were to map the modern definitions and symptoms of the condition to the figures of yore, I’d bet my cheeks we’ll find many a 

a person with autism over there.

Albert Einstein

The genius behind E=mc², some think, might've been on the autism spectrum. Why? He was a late talker, and socializing wasn't really his thing. He had this unique focus and way of thinking. It's pretty wild to think that these traits might have been part of what made him such a brilliant mind.

Isaac Newton

Switching gears to Isaac Newton – a man whose mind was a fortress of focus. Newton's life was a tapestry woven with threads of obsession and solitude, traits that echo some aspects commonly found in autism. His groundbreaking strides in physics and mathematics might just have been a product of his distinct way of processing the world.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

On to the melodious world of Mozart, the prodigious composer known for his early start in music. Beyond his compositions, Mozart's acute sensitivity to sound and his peculiar habits and personality have sparked posthumous discussions. Some believe these characteristics suggest he experienced the world in a way similar to individuals with autism.

[Conclusion] Conclusion

Me-wow 😼 what a list, huh? 

Well, it’s been quite an inspiring and insightful list of neurodivergent celebrities. When I was doing research for this one, I Was shocked that so many people that I know and love have been diagnosed with autism. Pretty cool, eh?

But it’s the tip of the iceberg as the Internet culture has allowed so many neurodivergents to excel and shine, be it content creators, influencers, streamers, and more. 

If you’re, like me, a crusty millennial, you’d probably need to know someone younger to fill you in on the hottest trends…which our Numo might be just a platform for 👁️

The crowning jewel of our app - tribes and squads (you can cop a quick preview here) connects you with fellow-minded ADHDers for some neuro-spicy chats, and who knows…maybe we will just steal one of your convos for another listicle 👿

But until then…toddles 😘

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