10 Celebrities Who May Have Asperger's

Geniuses with Asperger's syndrome are a recurring theme in movies and series. Do they exist in real life? Let's take a look at these cases.
10 Celebrities Who May Have Asperger's
Leonardo Biolatto

Written and verified by the doctor Leonardo Biolatto.

Last update: 06 March, 2023

Movies and television have contributed to creating a social image of people who are geniuses because they live with Asperger’s syndrome. There seem to be real-life examples of it, but we have to be careful with statements.

Genius does not have a single definition. Genius is the capacity that some people have to achieve unprecedented feats. Therefore, we have geniuses in sports, the sciences, the arts, and the performance of everyday activities.

Asperger syndrome is a developmental disorder. It’s included in the autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and is characterized by a marked difficulty in social relationships, as well as by the repetition of obsessive-type patterns.

Are there famous geniuses with Asperger’s syndrome? Yes, and we will now take a look at them. However, there are other celebrities who are suspected of having the diagnosis, although ther’s no confirmation.

Celebrities Who May Have Asperger’s Syndrome

The diagnosis of Asperger syndrome should be made with care and through the evaluation of a multidisciplinary team that includes a psychiatrist, a speech therapist, a geneticist, an occupational therapist, and a neurologist. Fulfilling the criteria, and according to what these celebrities have reported in their statements, the following cases are likely celebrities who have this disorder.

1. Carl Sagan

The famous scientist (in cover photo), who brought the cosmos closer to the general population while advising NASA for expeditions, was diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. Then, as the classification changed, he became more identified with Asperger’s.

Many patient organizations bring up Sagan’s case. He is a clear demonstration that neurodiversity is needed in the world for the advancement of humanity.

2. Susan Boyle

Susan Boyle’s voice is recognized and admired by many. When she rose to fame after her performances on television, the singer had to deal with aggression referring to her alleged low intellectual level and her physical appearance.

In 2009 she conquered the jury of Britain’s got talent, but it was not until 2013 that she confirmed her diagnosis. In statements to the press, she clarified that she had always thought she carried a neurological sequel since birth, until mental health professionals helped her decipher her difficulties in social relationships.

Inteligencia musical.
The area of music has its own intelligence and there’s no denying that there are many neurodivergent geniuses in this field.

3. Dan Aykroyd

The initial Ghostbusters movie saga had in its cast this actor, who was already known in the English-speaking world for his participation on Saturday night live. According to his own words, his obsession with ghost themes helped him compose the character in the films that made him a worldwide star.

Through the analysis of his behaviors, a psychiatrist diagnosed him with Asperger’s. The varied tics he carries also played a fundamental role in the confirmation.

4. Anthony Hopkins

The British actor, undisputed star of the cinema of the last fifty years, revealed that it took a long time for him to be diagnosed with Asperger’s. It was only in 2017 that he openly commented on it.

It’s worth clarifying that this did not cause a problem in his career. Hopkins has played countless memorable roles, with remarkable artistic ability, and has even received relevant awards for his gifts.

5. Vernon Smith

Perhaps less known than the others to the public but a genius nonetheless in his field of knowledge, Smith was awarded the Nobel Prize for his approaches to the application of experimental engineering in economics.

In some interviews, he let slip the possibility that his disorder had to do with the way he sees the world. And, in fact, that vision would be behind his novel hypotheses to analyze the real economy.

Geniuses who may have Asperger syndrome, although there’s no confirmation

As we said at the beginning, popular culture tends to attribute certain characteristics to geniuses. Therefore, there are celebrities and unsurpassed personalities who might’ve been on the autism spectrum. However, on this list, it’s important to highlight that these are just assumptions without actual confirmation.

6. Lionel Messi

Some biographies about the PSG star and world champion with Argentina’s national team have dared to claim that Messi had Asperger’s syndrome. However, the truth is that there are no reliable elements to support the diagnosis.

Rumors circulated about a note that doctors from the star’s childhood had drawn up. This report would suggest a degree of autism. In any case, the veracity of that document can’t be verified.

7. Tim Burton

The incredible worlds that the director is capable of creating are proof of his genius. Some time ago, his ex-wife, Helena Bonham Carter, said that Burton might have Asperger’s.

Actually, it was likely just an appreciation of his obsession with the jobs he takes. Burton has never confirmed the suspicion.

8. Isaac Newton

Of course, Newton did not receive a diagnosis of something that was uncatalogued in his day. However, Fitzgerald, a psychiatrist with a background in autism research controversially claims that the physicist had clear traits of the disorder.

In this case, there’s no way to reach a conclusion. This is a hypothesis that could not be validated only with writings and stories about the person who has already passed away. Still, it makes one wonder…

Isaac Newton might've had Asperger's.
Newton’s Asperger’s syndrome is an assumption and nothing more derived from experts studying accounts of his life.

9. Bill Gates

The entrepreneur and billionaire has also been suspect of having Asperger’s. Some also say that his business success stems from his practices of isolation and obsession with the issues he addresses. This can allow him to stay one step ahead and focus on specific goals.

In reality, Gates has not been diagnosed as such. However, hehas stated a few times that he might have compatible traits, but nothing more.

10. Andy Warhol

The repetitive works and style of his art seem to indicate that there were Asperger’s patterns in Andy’s creations. Indisputable and inescapable when talking about pop art, this genius changed the way of connecting the popular with the artistic world.

Are there really geniuses who are so because of Asperger’s syndrome?

It is not a rule that Asperger’s syndrome is a generator of geniuses. Nor is it true the other way around: not all geniuses have to have an autism spectrum disorder to be geniuses.

According to studies, people with Asperger’s often have better scores on intelligence tests when compared to the rest of the patients with ASD. In addition, compared to the general population, data have been obtained indicating better fluid intelligence, especially when it comes to high-functioning autism.

Fluid intelligence is a resourceful way of adapting to change.

In particular, verbal intelligence also appears to be superior in people with Asperger’s. Despite this, this ability does not impact their social relationships positively. In fact, difficulties in connecting with others place them in a situation of discrimination and stigmatization.

A very interesting book in this regard is A touch of genius: A hopeful guide to parenting a child with Asperger’s. The author is a father who receives his son’s diagnosis and looks for humane ways to help him. In the process, he discovers, precisely, what the title of his work expresses: he must look for that touch of genius in his child in order to enhance it.

Finally, pop culture will continue to use characters that express genius through an apparent form of diversity. Just think of Rain Man, The Accountant, or The big bang theory. However, we can’t assume that these fictional stories are real.

Behind Asperger’s syndrome there are no geniuses or non-geniuses, but neurodiverse people whom we can include and value.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

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  • Ignesius, N. C. (2022). The Genius Painter and Other Stories: A Children Picture Book About Stigma of Autistic Children. Kata Kita: Journal of Language, Literature, and Teaching10(3), 416-426.
  • Motlani, V., Motlani, G., & Thool, A. (2022). Asperger Syndrome (AS): A Review Article. Cureus14(11).
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  • Stamford, L. (2019). A Touch of Genius: A Hopeful Guide to Parenting a Child with Asperger’s. Archway Publishing.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.