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Top 10 Inspirational People With Autism and Asperger Syndrome

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Script written by Q.V. Hough These are the beautiful minds that broaden our view of the world. Welcome to, and today we're counting down our picks for the Top 10 Inspirational People With Autism and Asperger Syndrome. For this list, we're focusing specifically on people in the public eye with official diagnoses. Special thanks to our user kalvin.goodlaxson for submitting the idea using our interactive suggestion tool at WatchMojo.comsuggest

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Script written by Q.V. Hough

Top 10 Inspirational People With Autism And Aspergers Syndrome

These are the beautiful minds that broaden our view of the world. Welcome to, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 inspirational people with autism and Asperger’s Syndrome.

For this list, we’re focusing specifically on people in the public eye with official diagnoses. That means that someone like Stanley Kubrick did not make our list, as he was diagnosed in retrospect.

#10: Alexis Wineman

As the first autistic woman to compete in the Miss American pageant, this beauty queen has come a long way since her diagnosis at 11 years of age. Like many children, Alexis Wineman felt a bit awkward growing up. Once she learned of her Pervasive Developmental Disorder on the high-functioning end of the autism spectrum, life became easier to handle as she knew exactly what separated her from others. Alexis set the bar for many pageant hopefuls, winning America’s Choice in 2013, and her own sister followed up with a Miss Montana victory in 2015.

#9: Heather Kuzmich

In the world of high fashion, models typically need to be quick on their feet. Though “America’s Next Top Model” contestant Heather Kuzmich has no problem striking a pose, her Asperger’s Syndrome often sees her train of thought disrupted. But even so, Heather’s televised awkwardness showcased just what those diagnosed with the disorder are confronted with in social situations. On “America’s Next Top Model,” she was frequently teased, but it soon became apparent just how unique Heather was – both as an individual and as a model in the making.

#8: Peter Howson

He’s become well known for his artistic depictions of war, and he’s all too familiar with the inner turmoil that comes from living with Asperger’sand autism. As a child growing up in Scotland, Peter Howson’s obsessive passions didn’t go unnoticed by fellow artists. At that time, Asperger’s wasn’t even a recognized disorder, and he struggled to relate to others. His later battles with alcoholism complicated matters further. But as Peter transformed with the world around him, he found comfort in religion. His daughter also lives with autism.

#7: Clay Marzo

It’s no secret that surfers are a different breed of characters, but even within his own community, this Hawaiian champ has often been scrutinized for his blunt personality. In 2007, however, and years after becoming a prominent figure within the surfing community, Clay Marzo received an official diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome. That seems to explain his creative brilliance in the water and social awkwardness… well, at least to the general public. As Marzo has proven, individuals with Asperger’s can reach new heights once they put their mind to a given task.

#6: Susan Boyle

In 2009, this woman appeared on “Britain’s Got Talent” and soon became a viral vocal sensation. But while the world tried to comprehend how such a unique voice could go unnoticed for so long, no one – not even Boyle herself – knew that she had Asperger’s Syndrome. Living under the impression that she had suffered brain damage during birth, Boyle was only diagnosed with Asperger’s in 2012. Suddenly this immensely talented and enormously popular singer experienced a new outlook on her life as everything became a bit more clear.

#5: James Durbin

For the 10th season of “American Idol,” this California native made a name for himself first with his surprising audition, and later by landing in the Top 4. But, if you’ve only seen James Durbin perform, you wouldn’t know that he lives with both Asperger’s and Tourette Syndrome, withthe latter greatly affecting his exterior facade. Some individuals inspire us with their work conducted from the silence of a contained environment, yet this man has shown us that his affliction is just a small part of a larger story.

#4: Daryl Hannah

It’s a common misperception that all performers seek out Hollywood only for the attention and fame – just ask Daryl Hannah. The star of “Splash” and “Steel Magnolias” was diagnosed with autism as a child, but found joy in the controlled environment of acting. After years of concealing her autism and avoiding public functions, Hannah finally revealed her struggle in 2013. By doing so, she provided a voice for all those young men and women who might believe their personality traits would prevent them from thriving in public arenas.

#3: Satoshi Tajiri

People with Asperger’s and Autism are as individualized as anyone else, but there are some traits that are frequently associated with some members of the community. For example, some work excessively in order to fully realize their dreams. Case in point – Satoshi Tajiri, the creator of the Pokémon franchise, and a man who found himself fascinated by video games at an early age. Sounds normal, right? Well, Tajiri wasn’t just engulfed - he became obsessed. By recognizing what he could provide for the industry and fans like himself, he forever changed the gaming world.

#2: Dan Aykroyd

Regardless of how familiar you are with this man’s resume, you’ve surely seen him in a “Ghostbusters” clip at one time or another. But here’s the thing: He didn’t just star in “Ghostbusters.” He also co-wrote it, and the point of inception came from his own obsessive interests due to Asperger’s. In the age of YouTube, many people like to play the quirky role, but for someone like Aykroyd, his true personality allowed creative inspiration to naturally emerge. “Ghostbusters”…. an Asperger’s production, brought to you by the mind of Dan Aykroyd.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.
John Elder Robison
Dan Harmon
Adam Young
Hikari Ōe

#1: Temple Grandin

As seen in the 2010 HBO film, this woman has not only brought awareness to mental health issues, but also to animal rights. With a beautiful mind fueled by visual data, Temple Grandin has long advocated for the early detection of personality differences in order for humans to embrace their individuality rather than be perceived as victims. After all, those with Asperger’s and Autism need to understand themselves before society can grasp what makes each person with these disorders unique. Thanks to Temple Grandin, we’ve been educated through a story of mental health awareness that previously went untold.

Do you agree with our list? Which person with Autism or Asperger’s inspires you? For more mind-blowing Top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to


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