Geniuses with Autism
You have probably seen a movie where the character with autism seems to have superhuman intellectual abilities.
But how accurate is that?
In this article we will explore if people with autism can be geniuses and list some of historical geniuses who were thought to have autism.
Can people with autism be geniuses?
Genius is a term that is often used to describe individuals who have exceptional abilities or talents in a specific area.
Some people with autism, known as “autistic savants,” have been found to have exceptional abilities or talents in areas such as mathematics, music, art, or memory.
These abilities are thought to be related to the way the brain processes information in individuals with autism.
However, it is important to note that savant abilities are relatively rare in individuals with autism, and that most people with autism do not have savant skills. Additionally, having autism does not necessarily make a person a genius, just as not having autism does not preclude a person from being a genius.
Geniuses with Autism or Aspergers
The following is a list of famous people who were thought to have autism or aspergers. It is important to note that some of the people on this list have not been officially diagnosed with autism, but have exhibited characteristics or behaviors commonly associated with autism.
- Albert Einstein – a theoretical physicist and mathematician who developed the theory of general relativity.
- Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – a composer and musician who is widely considered to be one of the greatest composers of all time.
- Isaac Newton – a mathematician, physicist, and astronomer who is widely recognized as one of the most influential scientists of all time.
- Bill Gates – a business magnate, software developer, and philanthropist who co-founded Microsoft, the world’s largest personal-computer software company.
- Temple Grandin – an animal behavior expert and advocate for individuals with autism.
- Michael Tolliver – a computer programmer and mathematician who is known for his work in the field of artificial intelligence.
- Satoshi Tajiri – game developer and creator of Pokemon
- Tim Burton – an American film director, producer, artist, and writer.
- Andy Warhol – an American artist, filmmaker, and visionary figurehead of the 1960s pop art movement.
- Hans Asperger – an Austrian pediatrician and medical theorist, who first described Asperger syndrome, a form of autism.
- Glenn Gould – a Canadian pianist and composer, known for his extraordinary technique and interpretation of the music of Johann Sebastian Bach.
- Susan Boyle – a Scottish singer who rose to fame after appearing on Britain’s Got Talent in 2009.
- Steve Jobs – an American entrepreneur and businessman, who co-founded Apple Computer and played a key role in the development of the Macintosh computer.
- Temple Grandin – an American professor of animal science and autism spokesperson, her work in animal behavior revolutionized practices in the cattle industry.
- Michael Fitzgerald – an Irish psychiatrist and author, known for his research on child psychiatry and the history of autism.
- Daniel Tammet – A British author, essayist, translator, and autistic savant with a prodigious memory and the ability to perform complex mathematical calculations.
- Daryl Hannah – an American actress and environmental activist.
- Dan Aykroyd – an Canadian-American actor, comedian, and screenwriter, known for his work on Saturday Night Live and in films such as The Blues Brothers and Ghostbusters.
- Anthony Hopkins – a Welsh actor, director, and producer, known for his portrayal of Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs.
- Keanu Reeves – an Canadian actor, known for his roles in films such as The Matrix, John Wick, and Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure.
How ABA therapy can be beneficial to autistic savants
Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy is a widely used and evidence-based treatment for autism that can be beneficial for both individuals with autism who are considered savants as well as those who are not.
ABA therapy is based on the principles of behaviorism, which focuses on the relationship between an individual’s behavior and their environment. It aims to increase adaptive behaviors (such as communication, social skills, and self-care) and decrease maladaptive behaviors (such as self-injury, aggression, and tantrums) through the use of positive reinforcement, modeling, and other techniques.
For autistic savants, ABA therapy can be beneficial in a few ways:
- By teaching functional communication skills, they can express themselves and their needs.
- By teaching social skills, they can interact and build relationships with others.
- By addressing maladaptive behaviors that may be limiting their ability to engage in their area of savant skills.
- By teaching adaptive behaviors that could support their savant skills, such as organizational skills, planning, and time management.
- By teaching self-help skills such as grooming, dressing, and eating.
- By providing an appropriate learning environment that allows the individual to learn and practice their savant skills in a safe and structured setting.
It is important to note that ABA therapy is not a one-size-fits-all approach and should be tailored to the specific needs and abilities of each individual. A team of professionals including a BCBA, and other specialists should work together to develop an individualized treatment plan for each person with autism, including those who are savants.