Recognized People who have Asperger

Recently, some researchers such as Simon Baron-Cohen and Ioan James have speculated that well-known figures of the past, such as Albert Einstein and Isaac Newton, had Asperger syndrome because they showed some Asperger's-related tendencies or behaviors, such as intense interest in one subject, or social problems. A chapter of the aforementioned Gillberg book is devoted to this subject, including a detailed case study of philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein concluding that he met the criteria for the disorder. Naturally, the lack of a diagnosis during a person's lifetime does not imply that there was nothing to diagnose, particularly if there was not widespread awareness of the syndrome at the time (as is often the case with Asperger syndrome, which has only recently been widely recognized in the psychiatric community). However, such posthumous diagnoses remain controversial.

The arguments for alleged autism spectrum disorders in famous people vary from person to person. Some claim that Albert Einstein (one of the most frequently cited as allegedly autistic) was a late speaker, was a loner as a child, had violent temper tantrums, repeated under his breath sentences he uttered, and needed his wives to act as parents when he was an adult, factors that are stereotypical of autistic people. Isaac Newton stuttered and was epileptic. Many of these suspected historical Asperger cases might have been quite mild, but some skeptics believe these people may have had a few autistic traits but not enough for an autism spectrum diagnosis. Finally, many critics of historical diagnosis claim it is simply not possible to diagnose the dead, so nothing can be said definitively regarding the Asperger status of historical figures.

All this speculation may simply be an attempt to create role models for autistic's and to demonstrate that autistic's can do constructive things and contribute to society. Autistic rights activists often use such speculative diagnoses to argue that it would be a loss to society if autism were cured. However, others in the autistic rights movement dislike these arguments because they think autistic's should be able to value their uniqueness without the desire for a cure, regardless of whether people such as Einstein were autistic