Famous Autistic People
When my sister was growing up, people told us all the time that because she's autistic she'd never be able to do things other children do. They said she'd never read, never write an essay, never go to college, never live away from home. But she's actually done all of those things! You can't say someone will never be able to do things just because they're autistic. What a person can do is different for everyone! It might take longer to learn to do things, and maybe an autistic kid might have to find a different way of doing things, like typing to talk instead of speaking, but autistic kids can grow up to live happy lives just like everyone else!
All autistic people's abilities are different. To prove that, I'm going to show you people who are famous for their abilities - and who are also autistic. Now, is every autistic kid going to grow up and do the things these famous people have? Of course not. Just like most neurotypical kids won't go on to become millionaires, famous actors, or Nobel Prize winners, it's the same with autistic kids. But my point is that no matter what your interest is, there are lots of autistic role models out there for you!
Field: Comedian, singer, actor, writer
Details: He played Ray Stantz in Ghostbusters, a film which he helped write.
Another successful autistic person in acting is Daryl Hannah, best known for acting in Splash, Blade Runner, Steel Magnolias, and Kill Bill. Here's a clip of her in the movie Splash - her character is a mermaid who turns into a human when she's on the land.
Nobel Prize Winners
The most famous Nobel Prize winner and scientist ever, Albert Einstein, was autistic and took longer than other children to learn how to speak.
Another famous autistic Nobel Prize winner is Vernon Smith, a professor who won the 2002 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences. Vernon has a type of autism called Asperger's Syndrome and says being on the autism spectrum gave him the concentration he needed to win the prize.
Details: Kuzmich was on the reality TV show, America's Next Top Model, and came in fourth place. The link will take you to an interview of her discussing her life and Asperger's (a type of autism).
In a similar field, Alexis Wineman, Miss Montana, was a competitor for the Miss America beauty pageant.
Details: Clay Marzo is a professional surfer who won the National Scholastic Surfing Association (NSSA) Nationals competition when he was just 15. He now helps run a camp for teaching autistic kids how to surf. Check out the video for some background on him and to watch him surf!
There are also some really awesome autistic runners, like Mike Brannigan and Tommy Des Brisay!
Field: Video Game Designer
Details: Taijiri was the creator of the hugely popular video game Pokémon, 'the second-most successful and lucrative video game-based media franchise in the world.' Like many successful autistic people, he took his special interest and used it to help him in his career. Satoshi's special interest was bug collecting, and Pokemon is inspired by that!
Details: He's a hedge fund manager and former doctor who made over $100 million for himself and $700 million for his investors by successfully predicting the problems with housing that the United States had in 2008. He's been written in the newspaper The New York Times, and the book "The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine." He said that being an outsider actually helped him be able to make so much money, because it let him see things other people didn't.
Fields: Animal science and autism advocacy
Details: One of TIME's 2010 most influential people. Towards the goal of autism advocacy, which means she stands up for the rights of autistic people, she is both a successful speaker and author. Temple is so famous she even had a movie made about her, which won an Emmy! She is also an animal welfare advocate recognized as an award winning visionary by PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
Here's a preview of the movie about her:
Details: Stephen is an autistic savant, which means he is an autistic person who has a special skill. Stephen's special skill is that he can draw things from memory after only seeing them one time. He didn't learn how to speak fully until he was nine years old. Now that he's an adult, he is paid a lot of money to do what he loves best - drawing! His art is so good that for services to art he was actually appointed as a Member of the Order of the British Empire. Here's a video of him drawing.