This week is extraordinary; you may not know it’s World Autism Acceptance Week! Autism Acceptance Week aims to enable people to recognise how Autism Spectrum disorder can shape the lives of Autistic people. To help teachers allow their students to gain a better perspective on the condition, Mirodo has found eight people with Autism Spectrum Disorder who have changed the world for the better for teachers to show to their students!

What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?

Autism Spectrum Disorder impacts an individual’s capacity to communicate and socialise with other people. Autistic people often face challenges in understanding nonverbal and verbal cues, sometimes making social interactions and communication difficult. They also may encounter difficulties initiating conversations, making eye contact, understanding social norms, or displaying appropriate behaviour in various circumstances. Autistic individuals may have specific interests, routines, or repetitive behaviours; which they prefer or find comforting; and may become upset if this is suddenly changed. Please be aware that Asperger syndrome is a high-functioning form of autism; it is no longer a single diagnosis and fits under Autism Spectrum Disorder nowadays.

So, who are the eight world-changing individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder?

1) Susan Boyle – World Renowned Singer

Susan Boyle is the introverted but uniquely charming woman who made the entirety of Britain stand still and listen to her moving performance of ‘I Dreamed a Dream’ on Britain’s Got Talent in 2009. In 2013, she was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome; however, this has not stopped her from selling 14 million albums (and counting) and accumulating a net worth of $40 million. Although her Aspergers manifests in bouts of depression and mood swings, it does not dampen her passion for singing. Click to watch the performance that stopped a nation!

2) Dan Bull – Rapper

Some might not think he would not fit into the traditional rapper mold because of his nerdy personality; however, for Hip-Hop and video games fans, Dan Bull brings the two art forms together smoothly with his musicianship and passion for gaming. With 2.89 million subscribers on YouTube and several videos of him rapping about pop culture and games like Minecraft, there are many to choose from. Click here to listen to a touching song about his experience with Autism and how it has shaped his life.

3) Stephen Wiltshire – Artist

Stephen Wiltshire, also known as ‘the human camera’, can draw cityscapes from memory after seeing it just once. His work is known worldwide. He was born mute and unable to speak until five years of age. Instead of saying ‘mum’ and ‘dad’ at around 12 months old, his first words were ‘paper’ and ‘pencil’. Thankfully, his autism has not dampened his creative spirit and has resulted in several exhibitions and books, including Floating Cities in 1991, which appeared on the Sunday Times best-seller list in the same year. He was also given an MBE in 2006. Watching Stephen Wiltshire draw the view of The Empire State building is fascinating.

4) Bobby Fischer – Chess Prodigy

Bobby Fischer was an American chess player famous for winning the World Chess Championship in 1972 at 29. He is also a prominent figure in chess due to his incredible talent. His autism may have, particularly the logic and pattern recognition aspect of the condition, alongside his singular focus on chess and ability to think about the game uniquely, helped create strategies for his success in chess.

5) Aoife Dooley – Writer and Comedian

Aoife Dooley is an accomplished Irish writer and comedian with Autism. She was diagnosed with the condition in 2018 at 27 years old. 2019 was a year of accolades for the multi-talented woman. One of these achievements was getting the game changers award at the Irish Tatler women of the year award. She was also nominated; and won the Junior Children’s Book of the Year award for her book 123 Ireland! Whilst this happened, she invigorated a further buzz because her book extracts were in the Irish Junior Cert English exam. She has said multiple times that she would not change her autism diagnosis for the world. Her 2022 graphic novel, Frankie’s World, follows a girl with Autism and revolves around Dooley’s experiences with the condition. This video from Scholastic’s YouTube channel has the author explain why she wrote the novel.

6) Paige Layle – Social Media Influencer/Disability Advocate

Undoubtedly, Paige Layle is well-known because of her YouTube and TikTok channels containing videos discussing issues around Autism and other conditions. Her frank take on her experiences with Autism; and many videos about being neurodivergent since she was 15 make her relatable, resulting in 157,000 subscribers on her YouTube channel and 2.6 million on her TikTok. Her video debunking Autism Misconceptions will help teachers understand an autistic students’ needs. View it here! 

7) Dan Aykroyd – Actor

The versatile actor has starred in several films, the most prominent being Ghostbusters in 1984, which he also directed. His wife, Donna, encouraged him to seek a diagnosis of Asperger Syndrome sometime in the 1980s. Around the time, he was intensely interested in ghost hunting and law enforcement, namely, Hans Hozier, a prominent ghost hunter who wrote hundreds of books on the subject. He also kept and still keeps a police badge on his person. Without his Aspergers diagnosis, Hollywood would not be the entity it is today because he suggests it was partly responsible for Ghostbusters’ creation, likely his excess wealth and a point of inspiration for many actors!

8) Dr. Temple Grandin – American Academic

Dr Temple Grandin is a prominent scientist & author whose contributions to the autism community are noteworthy. She works as a Professor of Animal Science at Colorado State University and speaks worldwide about autism and cattle handling. Without her being a spokesperson for those with Autistic Spectrum Disorder and people with other neurodivergent conditions, people would likely have far less tolerant attitudes toward the neurodivergent and humankind. She did not talk until she was four years old and experienced intense bullying throughout secondary school due to delayed speech and displaying non-verbal cues. She is 75 years old, a carrier of a PHD, and has exceeded any expectations set for her since birth. Her autism has not limited her from living a prosperous life. Click this link to learn more about this superb woman! 

People with Autism Spectrum Disorder should never feel ashamed of how they navigate the world. Without these eight miraculous individuals and their alternative ways of thinking and expression, their fields would never be the same. I hope you learned more about Autism Spectrum Disorder and its place in the world and several industries by reading this blog. Comment below or tweet the SATs Companion Twitter account your knowledge of the condition or anyone else notable with Autism Spectrum Disorder we should be aware of!