When you consider all the famous people with Aspergers Syndrome, then there's no reason to be devastated by your child's diagnosis, right? Your child can be successful--successful because of Aspergers, not in spite of it.
I wore my t-shirt with the above image on Autism Awareness Day. Two women stopped to tell me that they liked my t-shirt. I thanked them and told them it was Autism Awareness Day. It was an opportunity to bring awareness! I also quietly pointed out that two of the boys in my company that day have Autism. That was the best part--showing them that Autism can be hard to recognize.
Why do you think that someone could be successful because of Aspergers?
Look again at the second half of the Autism/Aspergers definition in both the DSM 4 and 5, that is, the Autism behaviors described as, "restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, or activities."
Find the DSM 5 criterion: "Highly restricted, fixated interests that are abnormal in intensity or focus (such as strong attachment to or preoccupation with unusual objects, excessively circumscribed or perseverative interests)."
Although I had a general idea that this means that my son will talk to me about his favorite topic ad nauseam (that is, until I'm nauseous), I thought I'd look up the big, psychiatric words "circumscribed" and " perseverative" anyway.
circumscribed: narrow or restricted or limited; so a "circumscribed interest" would be a narrow interest (Why couldn't they just say "narrow interest"?)
perseverative: an adjective form of "persevere" or of "the act of persevering"; to persevere is to pursue an interest steadfastly despite distraction or difficulty
Now, if the circumscribed interest were the drawer slides on my dresser (part of an object, perhaps, as is described in a separate criterion in the DSM 4), then maybe my Trio Man would one day invent a better drawer slide. (I do remember Trio Man playing with and seeming to analyze drawer slides before age 2, but he's no longer interested in them.)
If the circumscribed interest were bugs, perhaps a girl Aspie may persevere to become a successful entomologist. (Girl Aspies are more likely to fixate on animals. Boy Aspies are more likely to fixate on trains.)
If the circumscribed interest were plumbing, perhaps an Aspie would persevere to help a third-world community bring clean water to its community.
Imagine the possibilities. Perhaps someday your child or mine will be one of the famous people with Aspergers!
Aspergers Syndrome is a relatively new diagnosis. Hans Asperger (1906-1980) described what we now call Aspergers in 1944. The World Health Organization first published Aspergers in its diagnostic manual, the ICD 10, in 1991. The American Psychiatric Association first published Aspergers in its diagnostic manual, the DSM 4, in 1994.
So, the first time doctors diagnosed Aspergers was in 1944, but it wasn't "endorsed" by a professional organization until 1991. As more doctors and educators are learning about Aspergers, they are diagnosing more children. We have many more diagnosed Aspies now than we did in 1944.
But doesn't it stand to reason that Aspies have always existed? Just because we now have a name for this "syndrome" does not mean that it hasn't always been there.
So, what have famous people with Aspergers accomplished? Let's take a look.
Norm Ledgin's son was diagnosed with Aspergers at about the same time that Ledgin was reading about Thomas Jefferson and noticing similarities between Jefferson and his son. His first book was all about Thomas Jefferson and his Aspergers characteristics. It's titled Diagnosing Jefferson (2000).
Ledgin decided to consider other historical figures and later published Asperger's and Self-Esteem: Insight and Hope through Famous Role Models (2002), describing all the following famous people who may have had Aspergers:
Ioan James describes the following famous people with Aspergers in his book Asperger's Syndrome and High Achievement: Some Very Remarkable People (2005).
Michael Fitzgerald and Brendan O'Brien list all of the following famous people with Aspergers in their book Genius Genes: How Asperger Talents Changed the World (2007).
You'll also find these famous people with Aspergers or high-functioning Autism alive today:
To receive the Aspergers Syndrome Parent newsletter, complete the form below.