Celebrating Autism

March 29, 2018 - Daniel Aherne

Last year, we shared a post focusing on neurodiverse celebrities – we got such a great response we decided to do another post focusing on celebs!

At Adjust, we know how valuable the differing skill sets that accompany neurodiversity can be, and that neurodivergent individuals can be highly beneficial to workplace teams.

And, today, to mark autism awareness week we’re continuing our mission. With a focus specifically on autism and Asperger’s, allow us to celebrate four more hugely successful individuals…

Daryl Hannah

“I was about 11 when I understood that movies weren’t something that just happened in reality and someone caught it on camera,” says Hannah. “Once I realised that it was actually a job I could have, I actively pursued it.

Perhaps best known for her roles in Blade Runner, Kill Bill and Splash, Daryl Hannah was diagnosed with autism at a young age, when the condition was not as widely recognised as it is today. In fact the doctor that diagnosed Hannah said she should be institutionalised – a decision her mother thankfully overruled.

Finding a creative outlet in acting, Hannah pursued the field until she found success, creating a public facade to help her through the more intimidating aspects of a life in the public eye. Hannah made her first movie in 1978, and is still acting today.

Susan Boyle

“Asperger’s doesn’t define me. It’s a condition that I have to live with and work through, but I feel more relaxed about myself. People will have a greater understanding of who I am and why I do the things I do”

We all remember Simon Cowell’s reaction when Susan Boyle walked on stage. The Scot entered Britain’s Got Talent, and was introduced to the show with a dialogue describing her life at home with her cat, and the admission that she’d never been kissed. They quickly went on to some humiliating shots of the audience rolling their eyes, before her voice changed their minds. The British papers continued to run stories about Boyle’s ‘strangeness,’ however, despite her talent.

Although wrongly diagnosed with brain damage after complications at birth, Boyle discovered in 2012 that she in fact has Asperger’s. Following her time on Britain’s Got Talent, Boyle went on to become one of the UK’s bestselling female artists. Clearly, her diagnosis didn’t hold her back.

Dan Aykroyd

‘I have Asperger’s – one of my symptoms included being obsessed with ghosts’

Actor, writer, and celebrated ghostbuster, Dan Aykroyd has been – through his roles – many things to many people. What you may not know, though, is that Aykroyd has Asperger’s. Diagnosed as an adult, Aykroyd visited his doctor on the insistence of his wife, who had taken note of some of her husband’s quirks.

Far from hindering Aykroyd’s career, however, his Asperger’s was a credit to his creativity. It was due to the condition that he developed an obsession with ghosts, for example, leading to one of his greatest commercial successes… Who you gonna call?

Chris Packham

“If there were a cure for Asperger’s, I don’t know if I’d want it. Humanity has prospered because of people with autistic traits. Without them, we wouldn’t have put man on the Moon or be running software programs. If we wiped out all the autistic people on the planet, I don’t know how much longer the human race would last”

Chris Packham is an example of another person that didn’t learn of their diagnosis until later in life. Discovering he had Asperger’s in his forties, Packham had already enjoyed success as a broadcaster. Packham attributes his encyclopaedic knowledge of nature and wildlife to his being autistic. Upon learning he had Asperger’s, Packham embarked on the creation of BBC documentary ‘Chris Packham: Asperger’s And Me’ – an in-depth view of what it’s like to be autistic – and something we highly recommend watching.

To educate your team on the benefits of having an autistic colleague consider booking a place on our brand new course “Neurodiversity Works”. We look forward to speaking with you soon.