49 Responses

  1. Hakeem
    Hakeem at |

    these are all ‘high functional autistics”. The media likes to tell good stories and thier achievements. Unfortunately, on the other sideof the spectrum, there are the people that suffer from severe autism or “low functional autism”. These people suffer from the life long dissability. Many can not live independently or even have regular jobs.

    1. Moose T.
      Moose T. at |

      Yeah, like both of mine….

      1. serenity
        serenity at |

        I think the whole spectrum should be celebrated, and recognized. I have Asperger’s, as well as I have 2 children on the spectrum. One with mild autism and the other severe. They are both beautiful and special to me. Everyone has something to contribute to the world. It’s just that the world isn’t always ready to accept the contribution. Not having a job or living a certain way is not what you want in your life does not mean that people who have more severe forms of autism ‘suffer’. There’s more to life than getting married, paying a mortgage and having children. As an autistic person (yes I prefer to be called autistic not person with) I feel stigmatized every time I hear things like this. I feel that speaking of autism this way doesn’t help society how wonderful and talented that people with severe autism can be.

        With that being said I’d like to have seen Amanda Baggs, who is nonverbal and what many would consider severe, has contributed a TON to the autistic rights movement be listed.

        1. Wendy Lawson
          Wendy Lawson at |

          I absolutely agree with all you say Serenity. Not being able to speak is not the same as not having anything to say and it certainly doesn’t mean you don’t think. It does mean you may need assistive technology to be able to communicate. I dislike the term Low Functioning…even though I understand why it is used. It may take all your energy just to stay present in the company of someone else… mainly because of sensory over load. i reckon lots of the suffering comes from being mis-understood, not being given access to assistive communication technology and not having folk believe in you.

          Not to push the needs and struggles of the severely disabled under ground or make little of them…. just to echo that we could be more supportive if we all stood together and insisted on the use of technology to help.

    2. Deepak Sharma
      Deepak Sharma at |

      Yes. I agree with you because I am a father of autistic son (age 19). He can’t do so many things independently. I am an Indian and here is a problem here that after our death who will take care of my autistic child. Please do let me know

  2. natalie jaro
    natalie jaro at |

    Yes I agree with you and that’s why I made it about the top ten autistics known today. It is a shame so many autistics don’t have a voice, in fact, many can’t even speak. Believe me, I understand. My son is autistic and he’s 11, I don’t know what the future holds for him either but I try to remain optimistic. At least those high-functioning autistics that reach the public eye give reason for others to ask more questions about autism and to ask what it is. I do know that many autistics do not have the kind of voice that these people have – but at least, they are able to articulate a bit better what it’s like to be autistic . Maybe I’ll write another article about autism. Any suggestions? Thanks.

    1. jennie daniels
      jennie daniels at |

      it is not 1 in 150 anymore, it has been 1 in 110 for the last 2 years. it was that ratio when my daughter was diagnosed in sept ’10, it was decided before her diagnosis that it iwas 1 in 110. for people in the military though it is 1 in 88, higher than the national average.

  3. Holly
    Holly at |

    Please use the term “people with autism” instead of “autistics”. People first!

    1. TopTenz Master
      TopTenz Master at |

      We can do that. I changed the title and when mentioned in the article.

      1. laura
        laura at |

        Just a quick correction, Ms. Temple Grandin I believe is a professor at Colorado State University, here in lovely Fort Collins CO – go rams!!

    2. Glenda Smith
      Glenda Smith at |

      I agree!!! Having a son with autism, I find the term “Autistics ” to be very offensive. It is the same as referring to someone with mental retardation as a “retard”. Autism does not define who people ARE, rather, people who have this disorder define what autism IS.

      1. kari hicks
        kari hicks at |

        I couldn’t agree more. Am always shocked when “experts” use the term. They are people first

      2. Karen
        Karen at |

        And I respectfully disagree. My son is autistic. He has been diagnosed with PDD:NOS. He knows he’s autistic and loved reading this list. He knows he is different but that doesn’t mean worse than anyone. He says proudly, “I’m autistic.” Many autistic adults that I am friends with have taught me this — I am following their lead.

        That said, people need to use terms and words that they are comfortable with. Don’t assume that someone calling themselves or someone else autistic is meant to be a put-down. If you are not comfortable with that, you should not use that term. It would be impossible for me to disconnect my son from his autism, but that is fine with us. I love him exactly the way he is; he is perfect to me.

  4. Luke
    Luke at |

    Can’t believe you missed Stephen Wiltshire nicknamed ‘The Human camera’ blessed with the phenomenal ability to draw in almost perfect detail what he has seen this includes a 10 metere panoramic drawing of Tokyo which was accurate down to the most minute of details including the number of windows!

    Check him out!

  5. Blu Ridger
    Blu Ridger at |

    In an interview on Fresh Air with Terry Gross, Dan Aykroyd spoke about living with Asberger’s .
    He said the psychiatric sessions during his adolescence was quite the positive experience, helping him both with coping strategies and with typical teenage issues.

  6. Katie
    Katie at |

    What about Autistic advocates and community leaders, Ari Ne’eman and Jim Sinclair? Or surfer Clay Marzo?

  7. Trevor
    Trevor at |

    The next version of this list should include Carly Fleischmann. Very well known in Canada.

    1. Carol
      Carol at |

      I agree! Carly’s story is so inspirational.

      1. kamala
        kamala at |

        All i can say is , please god dont test us. I leave it to you to take care of my son future. . Pls guide him as how u guide me.

  8. Debbie K.
    Debbie K. at |

    My son with autism (10 1/2) will be happy to hear that the creator of Pokemon is also someone with autism! It’s good to have heroes to look up to, people who are in some ways just like him!

    Dan Aykroyd has Asperbers? I’ve always loved him! A reason to love him more!

  9. Sabra
    Sabra at |

    The people on this list are truly inspirational and amazing. I do, however, wish that there were more nonverbal or what are thought of as “severe” autistics. In particular, Tito Mulkopadhyay, Sue Rubin and Carly Fleishcmann, who have been extremely inspirational to many parents and educators in showing that being nonverbal does NOT mean non-intelligence. Their voices, heard through the use of assistive technology paves the way for so many others like themselves who are in desperate need of a voice to pursue their dreams and enjoy being a part of the world we live in. If it were not for them in fact, my 10 year old daughter would not have a voice at all. (http://paperkids.wordpress.com/about/). I look at them like freedom fighters in a way:)

  10. Sara
    Sara at |

    Don’t forget about James Durbin. He was a big inspiration this season on America Idol for kids with Autism and other differences.

    1. Alex
      Alex at |

      I wholeheartedly agree, Sara. If they do this list again next year, it should include James. \m/ \m/

    2. Pen
      Pen at |

      THANK YOU for mentioning James Durbin. He should be on this list. The man made autism and Tourettes funky-cool, like there is a bigger, better universe that we have to tilt our neuro-typical heads to see.

  11. Kay
    Kay at |

    That picture is not Donna Williams try her website http://www.donnawilliams.net

    1. TopTenz Master
      TopTenz Master at |

      Thanks for the correction. We have added a new picture.

  12. stacey
    stacey at |

    what about Kim Peek – the man whose life was fictionalized by the movie Rainman

  13. Isaac R.
    Isaac R. at |

    I think I’ve been blessed with Asperger’s. Though I am not social, I may not be able to hold down a job; there are things I can do, and things I can share with the world.

    So why hesitate to do so?

    I feel that those who made it on this list pushed harder than they ever had before, stuck to great routines, and learned along the way, who to love who they are, and make peace with it.

    We need more people like them Autistic or not, out here in the world today.

  14. Steve-Prosper With Aspergers
    Steve-Prosper With Aspergers at |

    It’s great to see you featuring some of the best known individuals on the autism spectrum. We all need to learn from those individuals who have made their own unique way in a world geared toward neurotypical minds. I believe, along with Dr. Temple Grandin, that we all benefit from a diversity of different thinking styles, such as those represented on the autism spectrum.

  15. Christine
    Christine at |

    I have long believed that people’s “disabilities” are actually assets. I work with two children on the spectrum who are not high functioning and who need more assistance than the average child. They simply don’t communicate or learn in the same way as we are accustomed to seeing. I am often blown away at how smart these kids are! In some areas they could run circles around my own very smart, “normal” teens.

    1. Isaac R.
      Isaac R. at |

      Oh, how true! I know quite a few people with Asperger’s and Autism who are like that.
      Great minds they are.

    2. Brenden
      Brenden at |

      i myself have high functioning autism its is a challenge but i am very smart

  16. Jose Hernandez
    Jose Hernandez at |

    As a person with autism, I grew up not being much of a social butterfly and even had problems in school and abroad. Yet the disability (and assholes who messed with me) didn’t stop me from some success.

  17. Jose Hernandez
    Jose Hernandez at |

    Oh and by the way, I heard Mozart, Einstein, Friedrich Nietzsche, Thomas Jefferson and others had Asperger’s and other autistic disorders.

  18. Kunle Esan
    Kunle Esan at |

    I can’t help but notice that there is a strong connection between authors and autism. 6 out of the ten people mentioned above are authors.

  19. Xl
    Xl at |

    Why can’t we just celebrate them and be happy!! Why does everything have to turn into negatively!? It gives me hope that some day my son can overcome this and move on to have a normal life. Just be happy for them and celebrate their success, don’t take away their hard work.

  20. Scott McKinstry
    Scott McKinstry at |

    Temple Grandin teaches at Colorado State University, not The University of Northern Colorado.

  21. Mel G
    Mel G at |

    Truly inspiring! My son is 3 1/2 and he was just diagnosed with Autism. It can get really difficult to teach him how to socialize, but with my son entering Special Ed next week, I couldn’t be anymore excited! He is very smart – music and reading are his faves. Just like what most of you said here, let’s just be happy and not attach all the negative things about Autism. I became a Mommy because he was born – what else can I ask for?

  22. John
    John at |

    Most of the people shown here have Asperger’s NOT autism. Though Aspies do share some features and behaviors of autistics (for instance both are prone to self injury behavior) it’s important to remember the older generation that was labeled autistic turned out to be Aspergers, there is a fundamental difference. Tim Page is not autistic. He’s looking at you straight in the eye, as does Tom McKean. As for Donna WIlliams, maybe you didn’t see her video, where she’s admitted that she was diagnosed with Multiple Personality Disorder. She’s not autistic. Never was. Nobody nowhere turns out to be nobody with autism. Unbelievable how duped the public is by people who claim to be autistic, but are really have psychiatric disorders.

  23. Clifford
    Clifford at |

    I absolutely hate that there is an Autism Speaks ad by all the famous autistic people. Especially since Autism Speaks seeks to prevent, cure and search for cause, rather than empower autistic people to be accepted, loved, supported, and vocal. Other than that, this is great. Hopefully it encourages a more safe and welcoming culture so more adults will come out of the closet.

    PS: autism was first mentioned in books in the 17th century. A bit of challenging research goes a long way.

  24. Clifford
    Clifford at |

    And to the person whining that these are all “Aspies” we don’t need more division in the autistic community. Many of these people are autistic. Many were nonverbal for a long time before speaking, many had serious challenges to work through and overcome. Now, they appear what the average NT considers “Aspie” but they are autistic.

  25. Clifford
    Clifford at |

    Eh, JOHN, autistic people can and do make eye contact. It is not easy for some, but it does happen. Your whining sucks. Also, I am not sharing this because I despise the giant Autism Speaks ad. I suspect other advocates are refusing to share because of that too. No one in the actual autistic community wants to help promote hate, ignorance, fear and bigotry. Much less genocide. Which AS does promote with their “preventive” speak.

  26. Clifford
    Clifford at |

    Holly and TopTenz: Do you want to use language that autistic people prefer or that non autistic people prefer? Autisitc advocates generally prefer “autistic” rather than the god awful “person first” language. Maybe you should listen to autistics rather than what your latest training workshop told you sounds nicer. A good place to start would be to research Jim Sinclair and read his 1993 essay “Don’t Mourn for Us”

    1. Mary
      Mary at |

      As an a person with a disability, an autism community advocate, someone who works in the autism community, and whose life has been affected by family with autism; the phrase “autistic” is truly a personal preference. Some individuals prefer to be called “autistic.” As a general note, it is best to use that “god awful” person first language if you don’t know how someone identifies.

      If you have met one person with autism, that’s exactly it: you’ve met ONE person with autism. Because this is a spectrum disorder, it is important to not that no two individuals display exact symptomology.

      It is important to promote treatment and cures for this community as well as empower all those who identify with having autism.

      I am glad this article sheds light on the amazing contributions these individuals have made as well as addressing stereotype about autism.

  27. taryn mckay
    taryn mckay at |

    My name is taryn i have pervasive developmental autism i have been stugleing with mine my whole life and im still stugleing im onley 18.I would love to change the world like these people and help others with there autism i love to write its my thing i want to write a book and enspire others to know nomatter what proublmes you have there is hope.I always feel like a social wildflower i dont do well in big groups and in loud places.And when im upset i have trouble express myself and i blow up.But im a very sweet girl and i touch everyone i meet.I want others to know that just cause your different does not meen you cant make a defference it just takes time.I loved these storys and one day i hope to tell my story as well and teach others my point of view i have autism and alot of other stuff on top of it.Thanks Taryn Mckay

  28. Mary
    Mary at |

    These are just a handful of famous people with autism.

    I love that this article features them but I think the choice of labeling these individuals as “autistics” is a poor choice. Promoting person first language is of great importance in the Autism community and I would have liked to have seen more awareness regarding this topic.

  29. Dorothy Wunderlin
    Dorothy Wunderlin at |

    If these famous people who got atusim like I do I can do anything I put heart too as well without giving up hope and faith

  30. Michele Newman
    Michele Newman at |

    I was always bullied & a silent outcast trying to follow the rules and serve others because I felt insufficient (in other’s eyes), but always knew there was something wonderfully different & special about me. God chose to wait until I’d lost everythng, including my hope & faith in humanity, to expose me for who & what I really am at age 51 — an autistic savant. I have not been successful (yet) by any means, but have been blessed with experiences, talents & the ability to see the world in such special ways that few others on the spectrum (or even Neuro-typicals) could only dream about. Enough about me, though. In the last 8 year’s as I’ve begun my new life’s journey and familiarization with autism, I feel one person who should clearly hold the #1 position did live before, and died only as Asperger’s Syndrome was being defined. To me, the greatest person who ever lived who was clearly on the spectrum was Mahatma Gandhi.

  31. Russell Abe
    Russell Abe at |

    As a father of a 16 year old son of high functioning autism, what bothers me is what is our government doing? 16 years ago, it was predicted 1 of 150 babies would be diagnosed with autism. What is it today, 1 or 50? There will be more individuals with than without. Severe or high functioning, what is their future? My son sadly knows he’s not like everyone else. He’s worried he will not be able to provide for himself. That is sad for a father or any parent to hear. As like many parents, we too fell into the other sad statistic of divorce. Then the siblings, they are worried too. I’ve tried hard to find what is my son’ potential or gift or maybe he’s a savant of something. I have no resources to seek that. We need to find and provide that answer for that unknown.


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