Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), or autism for short, is a complex developmental condition characterised by challenges in social interaction, speech and nonverbal communication, and restricted/repetitive behaviors. It is one of several invisible disabilities, where you cannot immediately see that someone is disabled. Autism’s effect on each person is different. There is a wide variation in the type and severity of symptoms.
While it’s not possible to diagnose some of these figures now, medical professionals and experts who have experienced autism first-hand have agreed that the following figures probably displayed or showed autistic tendencies. Let’s see how many figures you can recognise from this list!
An actor, composer, director and film producer, Sir Anthony Hopkins recently disclosed his diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome (a milder form of autism) to news and media outlets. He was diagnosed much later in life despite showing its traits and characteristics for years. Sir Anthony attributed his insecurities and isolation in his younger days to his newly discovered diagnosis. However, he also displayed excellent rote memory and analysis skills, which helped his career as an actor. He once memorised a seven-page courtroom speech, delivering it in a single take. He has also said, “I like to deconstruct, to pull a character apart, to work out what makes them tick and my view will not be the same as everyone else.” These skills earned him an Academy Award for Best Actor in the film The Silence of The Lambs.
The Japanese video game designer and director best known as the creator of Nintendo’s Pokemon franchise, Satoshi had many obsessions when he was younger. He enjoyed collecting bugs when he was a kid and arcade games in his teenage years. He was so engrossed in these activities that he didn’t do well in school. Eventually, he turned his obsession into a career. He created Pokemon to give children the same joy that he experienced when he was collecting bugs as a child.
The iconic pop artist with a penchant for repetition in his artworks was a leading figure in the Pop Art Movement back in the 50s. Though not officially diagnosed, medical professionals believed that many of Andy’s artistic and behavioural traits suggested that he was on the spectrum. Among them are his social awkwardness, obsession with consumer goods and use of repetition in his artworks.
Experts have noted how this mathematician, astronomer, & physicist displayed many signs of Asperger’s syndrome. Newton was known to isolate himself from others and was awkward in conversation. He was said to rely on routines and was very focused on work – sometimes missing meals or without sleeping.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Experts have agreed that this musical genius fell under the autism spectrum based on his characteristics. It is said that he was sensitive to loud noises, had a short attention span, experienced sudden mood swings and was said to be very anti-social. It is believed that his sensitivity to sound helped him create beautiful musical pieces.
Though not all these individuals were officially diagnosed, they exhibited the characteristics of individuals who fall under the autism spectrum. These inspirational figures achieved great success, and we can only imagine how much more they might have achieved with the right support earlier in life.
Early diagnosis in young children means that they can be taught the skills and given the right support they need to enhance their quality of life. Early diagnosis can also ensure that families receive the monetary and non-monetary support they need to help them raise their child.
If you know someone who displays autistic characteristics, you can reach out to the National Autism Society of Malaysia (NASOM) to sign up for programmes tailored to their needs.
Nathan C., M.D. (2018) What Is Autism Spectrum Disorder? [Accessed: 10 March 2021] Available at: https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/autism/what-is-autism-spectrum-disorder
Applied Behaviour Analysis. (2021) History’s 30 Most Inspiring People on the Autism Spectrum. [Accessed: 10 March 2021] Available at: https://www.appliedbehavioranalysisprograms.com/historys-30-most-inspiring-people-on-the-autism-spectrum/
Colin E. (2018) How Satoshi Tajiri’s Autism Helped Create Pokemon. [Accessed: 10 March 2021] Available at: https://the-art-of-autism.com/how-satoshi-tajiris-autism-helped-create-pokemon/
Emily B. (2018) Andy Warhol And His Artistic Influence. [Accessed: 10 March 2021] Available at: https://theculturetrip.com/north-america/usa/new-york/new-york-city/articles/andy-warhol-and-his-artistic-influence/
Hazel M. (2003) Einstein and Newton showed signs of autism. [Accessed: 10 March 2021] Available at: https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn3676-einstein-and-newton-showed-signs-of-autism/
Karola D. (2014) Why early diagnosis of autism in children is a good thing. [Accessed: 10 March 2021] Available at: https://theconversation.com/why-early-diagnosis-of-autism-in-children-is-a-good-thing-33290
Michelle G. (2020) Anthony Hopkins Reveals A Late-In-Life Autism Diagnosis. [Accessed: 10 March 2021] Available at: https://www.autismkey.com/anthony-hopkins-autism-aspergers-diagnosis/
National Institute of Mental Health. (2021) Autism Spectrum Disorder. [Accessed: 10 March 2021] Available at: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/autism-spectrum-disorders-asd/index.shtml
Wikipedia (2021) Anthony Hopkins. [Accessed: 10 March 2021] Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthony_Hopkins
Wikipedia (2021) Satoshi Tajiri. [Accessed: 10 March 2021] Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Satoshi_Tajiri