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46 Famous People With Autism

What’s inside this article: A look at some famous people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). These include some of the greatest minds of all time, including Albert Einstein, Elon Musk, Tim Burton, Eminem, and more!

Imagine of film and Tv director Tim Burton, famous people with autism

Some of the most well-known people from history who are famous today have autism spectrum disorder (ASD). These include famous scientists, musicians, entrepreneurs, entertainers, and activists!

I view these individuals as inspirational to neurodivergents like myself and others. They are proof that different ways of thinking are strengths and benefit society.

Teaching your kids about famous autistics who’ve made an impact in the world is a great way to help children embrace their neurodiversity and see their own strengths.

There are plenty of other successful autistic people out there, too, but for now, let’s take a look at these ten famous people with autism.

Famous People With Autism

1. Albert Einstein – Scientist

Albert Einstein (1879-1955) was a German-born physicist. He was one of the greatest scientists of all time. He invented the first laser, which is pretty cool.

Einstein also developed the special and general theories of relativity (E=mc2) and won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1921 for his explanation of the photoelectric effect. His work included relativity theory, quantum mechanics, the unified field, and atomic structure.

Many experts have concluded that Einstein was autistic. As a child, he experienced severe speech delay and echolalia. He also had difficulty engaging in small talk, intense focus on his special interest (physics), and sensory sensitivities.

2. Eminem – Rapper

Eminem, whose real name is Marshall Bruce Mathers III, is a rapper, songwriter, record producer, record executive and actor. He’s known as being one of the best-selling and most talented artists of all time.

Eminem disclosed in his song ‘Wicked Ways’ that he has Asperger’s. Asperger’s was previously the diagnosis given to people with autism who had an above-average intellectual ability but persistent difficulties with or differences in social communication, social interaction, and repetitive behaviors.

In interviews, Eminem says he remembers faking sick to stay home from school, where he says he was shy and awkward.

As a kid, he preferred to be at home writing poetry, drawing comic book characters, and reading.

3. Elon Musk – Entrepreneur

Elon Musk is one of the richest, most successful people of all time.

He is the founder, CEO, and chief engineer of SpaceX; angel investor, CEO, and product architect of Tesla, Inc.; owner and CEO of X (previously known as Twitter).; founder of The Boring Company; co-founder of Neuralink and OpenAI; and president of the philanthropic Musk Foundation.

Elon Musk has spoken in interviews about growing up with Autism. He has said things like, “I would just tend to take things very literally … but then that turned out to be wrong — [people were not] simply saying exactly what they mean, there are all sorts of other things that are meant, and [it] took me a while to figure that out.”

Musk himself credits autism for contributing to his success. He believes his hyper-focused mind amplified his intense and specialized interest in science and technology, a common trait among autistic people, helping him reach the level of success he has today.

4. Steve Jobs – Founder of Apple

Steve Jobs (1955-2011) was an inventor, designer, and entrepreneur who co-founded, was chief executive, and was chairman of Apple.

Although Steve Jobs did not directly acknowledge having an autism diagnosis, many experts believe he was autistic. This is because he demonstrated many common traits associated with autism, including special interests and perfectionism, sensory sensitivities, intense focus, and difficulties with social interactions.

5. Satoshi Tajiri – Creator of Pokémon

Next on our list of famous people with autism is the creator of Pokemon, Satoshi Tajiri.

Satoshi Tajiri is a Japanese video game designer and director best known for being the creator of the Pokémon franchise and one of the founders and president of video game developer Game Freak.

As a child, Satoshi loved collecting bugs. He’s said before that this love of bug collecting is what inspired him to create Pokemon – he wanted a way to give children the same joy he had while collecting bugs when playing his video games.

Many people on the autism spectrum enjoy collecting, sorting, and categorizing different things. So Satoshi, as an autistic individual himself, gave the world a gift that only he could create: a whole new thing to collect. 

The original Pokemon game had 151 species, and its slogan was “Gotta Catch ’em All.” There are now 1000 Pokemon to discover.

6. Tim Burton – Director

Tim Burton is a famous director, producer, screenwriter, and artist. He is known for his gothic fantasy and horror films such as Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands, The Nightmare Before Christmas, and more, As well as the Netflix hit Wednesday.

Though he wasn’t diagnosed as a child, those who knew him described him as an introvert and recluse. As a child, he often chose solitary activities such as painting, drawing, and watching films.

Burton says he identifies as being autistic because he shares so many common personality traits with others with ASD. Most of the autistic community supports adults who, like Burton, are self-diagnosed for several reasons.

7. Mark Zuckerberg – Founder of Facebook

Mark Zuckerberg is known for co-founding the social media website Facebook and its parent company Meta Platforms, of which he is the chairman, chief executive officer, and controlling shareholder. He started programming when he was only 12 years old.

Zuckerberg’s facial expressions, movements, speech, and other social behaviors have been heavily mocked online; he’s often referred to as robotic or emotionless. This is unfortunate because many parents fear their autistic children will be judged for their quirks rather than their talents.

Despite his recent criticisms over censorship on Facebook and the metaverse, he’s undeniably one of the most successful and innovative internet entrepreneurs and programmers alive.

Hopefully, regardless of people’s opinions of him as an individual, they’ll stop to consider how the criticisms about his demeanor, appearance, and social interactions are bullying and negatively affect the autistic community and, instead, form their opinions based on his work.

8. Jerry Seinfeld – Comedian

Jerry Seinfeld is a stand-up comedian, actor, writer, and producer. He is best known for playing a semi-fictionalized version of himself in the sitcom Seinfeld, which he co-created with Larry David. This show is considered one of the most successful TV sitcoms in history.

Although he’s never mentioned being officially diagnosed, Jerry said that he’s “still figuring out who he is. For example: in recent years, as he’s learned about autism spectrum disorders, he sees it in himself.

He continued, “Basic social engagement is really a struggle. I’m very literal. When people talk to me and use expressions, sometimes I don’t know what they’re saying. But I don’t see it as dysfunctional. I think of it as an alternate mindset.”

9. Temple Grandin – Author, Speaker, Scientist

Temple Grandin is a scientist, academic, and animal behaviorist. She is also a prominent author and speaker on both autism and animal behavior and was a past member of the board of directors of the Autism Society of America.

She lectures to parents and teachers throughout the U.S. about her experiences with autism.

She’s published numerous books on autism, including children’s books. Julia Finley Mosca wrote a children’s book about her, The Girl Who Thought in Pictures: The Story of Dr. Temple Grandin.

10. Greta Thunberg – Environmental Activist

Greta Thunberg is a young environmental activist whose known for challenging world leaders to take immediate action against climate change. Her passion for the environment began when she was only 8 years old.

Greta refers to her autism diagnosis as her “superpower” and says finding out she is autistic was a relief for her.

In an interview, she said “When I felt the most sad, I didn’t know that I had autism,” she explained. “I just thought, I don’t want to be like this. The diagnosis was almost only positive for me. It helped me get the support I needed and made me understand why I was like this.”

More Famous People With Autism

This list of famous people with autism is by no means conclusive. Here are some more names found across the web of current celebrities and past public figures.

  • Leonardo da Vinci – Artist
  • Vincent van Gogh – Artist
  • Steven Spielberg – Director
  • Alfred Hitchcock – Director
  • Thomas Edison – Inventor
  • Alexander Graham Bell – Inventor
  • Benjamin Franklin – Inventor
  • Henry Ford – Inventor
  • Ludwig van Beethoven – Musician
  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – Musician
  • Bob Dylan – Musician
  • James Taylor – Singer-Songwriter & Guitarist
  • John Denver – Singer-Songwriter & Record Producer
  • Charles Darwin – Naturalist & Geologist
  • Carl Jung – Psychiatrist & Psychotherapist
  • Lionel Messi – Football Player
  • Samuel Clemens – Writer
  • George Orwell – Writer,
  • Jane Austen – Writer
  • Charles M. Schulz – Cartoonist
  • Dan Aykroyd – Comedic Actor
  • Hans Christian Andersen – Children’s Author
  • Susan Boyle – Singer
  • Lewis Carroll – Author of “Alice in Wonderland”
  • Emily Dickinson – Poet
  • Bobby Fischer – Chess Grandmaster
  • Bill Gates – Founder of Microsoft
  • Nikola Tesla – Inventor
  • Michael Brannigan – Track and Field Athlete
  • Ulysse Delsaux – Racecar Driver
  • Jim Eisenreich – Major League Baseball Player
  • Clay Marzo – Surfer
  • Courtney Love – Signer & Actress
  • Matt Savage – Musician
  • Hannah Gadsby – Comedian
  • Carl Sagan – Astronomer
  • and many, many more

ASD Traits Can Contribute to Accomplishing Great Things

Autistic people all have their own strengths and unique abilities, and these famous people with autism have used those strengths and gifts to help achieve amazing things. Along with plenty of hard work, dedication, and overcoming obstacles.

Unfortunately, the diagnostic criteria for Autism Spectrum Disorder focuses heavily on deficits associated with autism.

This creates a negative picture of such wonderful individuals. Truthfully, there are tons of positive “autism traits.”

Has expertise in area(s) of special interest

Having special, narrow interests is a common trait of autistic people. Many of which have outstanding talent in their area (or areas) of special interest.

Many of these interests are marketable. What I mean by that is that they would be considered a strong asset to the right employer. Your child’s “obsession” with animals could help carve their path to a career as a zoologist, for example.

This characteristic may contribute to the success that many famous people with autism experience. This is why I say not to discourage your children’s special interests.

Even though your child may not want or dream about a life of fame, finding others with similar interests or those who admire their expertise can help friendships and careers blossom later in life.