The amount of celebrities living with ASD continues to rise as the rate of ASD rises. More appropriately, the number of famous peoples’ children with the disorder continues to rise as more and more celebrities reveal that they too have children on the spectrum.
The list of famous people with autism who themselves were diagnosed is short. I’ve seen long lists elsewhere that name several people. The problem is that the people on those lists are NOT famous and never were famous. And famous is the key word here. If you don’t recognize their names then they aren’t famous people with autism.
Here’s the list of famous people with autism:
• Daryl Hannah1
Daryl Hannah was diagnosed as being “borderline autistic” at age 3. Today when a person is described as borderline autistic she may be diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. Regardless, Hannah went on to star in several movies throughout the years. Two of her more well known movies are probably 1984’s Splash with Tom Hanks and 2003’s Kill Bill and Kill Bill Volume 2 which had star-studded casts. I’ve seen Hannah in her movies and I’ve seen her on television speaking with the media. If she was borderline autistic I detect no symptoms of that today. Of course, I’m not a doctor though. I can say with confidence that Hannah doesn’t have autism anymore, if she ever did.
HAVE CHILDREN WITH AUTISM
Here’s a list of famous people with autism… well, OK, technically it’s their children that have been diagnosed with some form of Autistic Spectrum Disorder. None the less, here’s the celebrities that are in your shoes walking the same walk.
• Holly Robinson Peete6
…Television actress who was on 21 Jump Street and Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper
Holly had twins born October 19, 1997 and one of them, Rodney Jr. was diagnosed with autism at age 3. Since then Holly has spoken openly about her son many times.
• Jenny McCarthy7
…Former Playboy playmate, actress, author and outspoken anti-vaccine activist
Her son, Evan, born May 18, 2002 has autism. Jenny now says Evan is completely cured. “I made a deal with God,” she explains. “I said, ‘You fix my boy, you show me the way and I’ll teach the world how I did it.'” She blames vaccines for her son’s autism, despite the lack of scientific proof.
• John Schneider8
…Television actor who played Bo Duke in the 1980s show Dukes of Hazzard and in the 2000s starred in Smallville
John’s son Chasen has Asperger’s Syndrome. John says, “Chasen responded well to speech and language therapy and went from there to occupational therapy. Chasen learns incredibly quickly. The notion that you have to hire an expert to teach your child to play is a little hard to come to grips with. Chasen went through a lot of that and now does really well. But some things that most children just kind of learn by osmosis need to be taught to a child with Asperger’s.”
• Toni Braxton9
…Grammy award winning R&B singer/songwriter
Born March 31, 2003 her son Diezel was diagnosed with autism. “Songstress Toni Braxton appeared on The View today in her new role as a spokesperson to raise awareness for children diagnosed with autism. It is a subject that hit very close to home, since Toni Braxton’s own youngest son, Diezel, 3, was diagnosed with autism in September 2006.”
• Steven Stills10
…Of the famed music group Crosby, Stills, and Nash who had their heyday in the 1970s and sold millions of records
Son Henry Stills who was in Autism: The Musical. Henry was diagnosed at 3 with Asperger’s syndrome. He had been spinning things and lining up cars. “I’m shy about going public with this,” Stephen explains. Kristen, his mom, believes autism is caused by a combination between genetic predisposition and environmental toxins. “Henry didn’t have the regressive thing,” she explains. “He was always a little ‘off.’ It was more pronounced at 2 because that’s when kids are more social.”
• Dan Marino11
…Hall of Fame quarterback for the NFL team Miami Dolphins
Born May 18, 1988, in the middle of Dan’s successful football career, Michael Marino was diagnosed as a child. Today he seems like any other normal kid. Mikey says, “The only thing I really remember about having autism was wanting to say something and not being able to do it. It’s pretty weird to explain. It’s like you are a perfectly normal person on the inside, you know what you want to do, but you just can’t do it. You know you want to say something, pick up something or do something, but you are just not able to do it.”
• Doug Flutie12
…Retired quarterback who played in the NFL as well as Canadian Football League and others
Doug Flutie, Jr. was born on November 29, 1991. Up until the age of 2 1/2 he seemed to be developing normally and spoke in almost full sentences. Then the Fluties noticed a gradual change in Dougie; he seemed to be regressing. He went from speaking in sentences to phrases, then to single words. Eventually he lost all speech.
• Sylvester Stallone15
…Movie actor best known for starring in the Rambo and Rocky franchises
Seargeoh Stallone, Sly’s youngest son who was born in 1979, was diagnosed wth autism around age 3. Seargeoh’s mother, Sasha Czack, was Sly’s first wife. Stallone has narrated videos on children with disabilities.
• Will Clark16
…Former Major League Baseball player nicknamed “The Thrill”, best known for his time with the San Francisco Giants
Will’s son, Trey, who was born around 1996 was diagnosed as autistic shortly after the age of 2. Since Will was still playing baseball at the time he admits that wife, Lisa, is the one who handled all the therapy appointments.
• John Travolta17
…Major actor and movie star
In mid-September of 2009 Travolta admitted before a grand jury that his late son, Jett, had autism. Prior to his statements on this day there was speculation from many people that his only son was autistic. Jett died after having a seizure at age 16.
WELL KNOWN IN AUTISM CIRCLES
Here’s a second, and more relevant list. I wouldn’t say these people are famous, but they are well known within the autism community for sure, most noteably Temple Grandin.
• Jason McElwain2
Jason was a high-schooler when he had the opportunity to get on the court and play in a real game on senior night. His game is basketball, and Jason loves it. He scored 20 points in 4 minutes. Then he wrote a book about himself and the game he loves.
• Temple Grandin3
An author, inventor, and speaker, Temple is probably the most well-known person with autism on the planet. She routinely speaks at autism conferences and has written several books both about her autism and about animals, which she loves.
• Sue Rubin4
Born on May 25, 1978 Sue was diagnosed as being severely autistic. For most of her childhood she was also believed to be retarded. But when she became a teenager her world changed. Still severely autistic, it was discovered that she could communicate… and that she was incredibly intelligent. Sue’s life is the subject of a great documentary entitled Autism is a World.
• Kim Peek5
Born in 1951 Peek was the basis for the character Raymond Babbit, who was played by Dustin Hoffman, and the inspiration of the movieRain Man. In fact, Kim was a consultant on the set of the movie. As an autistic savant Kim exhibits incredible memory skills! His father travels throughout the US with Kim, caring for him, demonstrating his abilities.
HISTORICAL FIGURES WHO ARE SPECULATED TO HAVE HAD AUTISM13 14
• Albert Einstein
• Isaac Newton
• Andy Warhol
• Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
1 Wikipedia.org: Daryl Hannah
2 ESPN online: J-Mac’s Meaningful Message for Autism. June 14, 2006.
5 Autism Wiki: Kim Peek
6 Wikipedia.org: Holly Robinson Peete
7 US Magazine online: Jenny McCarthy: My Son No Longer Has Autism. Oct. 16, 2008.
8 Firestone, B. (2008). “Autism Heroes”, page 195. Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
9 Associated Content online: Toni Braxton Breaks Down and Cries on the View Over Autistic Son. Jan. 29, 2007.
10 Spectrum Magazine. Oct/Nov 2008 issue, pages 34-36
11 CBS Sports online: This Marino Miracle is a Victory Over Autism. Nov. 30, 2002.
13 BBC News online: Brilliant Minds Linked to Autism. Jan. 8, 2004.
14 Wikipedia.org: People speculated to have been autistic
15 People Magazine. June 3, 1985. Vol. 23 No. 22, page 94. Sly’s Silent Son.
16 Louisiana Life Magazine. July-August 2009. “Still the Thrill.”
17 ABC News website. September 23, 2009. From John Travolta: I Ran Down the Stairs To Help My Son.