What if?

Question: What if the people below were treated (in their time) the same way autistic people are treated now?

Although reports are inconclusive, for obvious reasons (due to the lack of a comprehensive history and the fact that the diagnoses given are post-mortem) many of them have been able to at least point towards a person on the Autistic Spectrum which means that notable figures in history may have been on the autism spectrum.  Michael Fitzgerald in his book, “Autism and Creativity”  argues that many of the most creatively talented artists and thinkers in history exhibited classic signs of Asperger’s.

Einstein is said to have had difficulty with social interactions, had tactile sensitivity, was very intelligent yet found his language difficult at times, and learning in school.  It is therefore possible that different teaching styles, attitudes that weren’t available in this time contributed to him falling behind in school. Many people on the spectrum have a lack of desire for food and the same disregard for them as Einstein had.  However, Einstein did not care what he ate and completed his meals with no complaints; this is the exact opposite of Chris, again showing how diverse people on the spectrum can be.  Many of our kids are very specific about the kinds, colours, textures, and smells of foods; therefore it is indeterminate whether this should be classified as an autistic trait or not.  Einstein had a relationship with a woman whom he eventually married and had three children with.  The marriage seemed to have quite a bit of difficulty, but  the woman gave birth to three children with him – much like a lot of people living with high-functioning autism.

More details http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn3676-einstein-and-newton-showed-signs-of-autism.html

Sir Isaac Newton was very quiet . He was extraordinarily focused on his work and had a hard time breaking away.  Newton also relied strongly upon routines.  For example,  if he had been scheduled to give a lecture, that lecture was going to happen whether there was an audience or not.

More details http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/2988647.stm

Charles Darwin: Prof Michael Fitzgerald conducted research on Charles Darwin, and supplied numerous facts supporting his theory that Darwin was autistic. Fitzgerald stated that Darwin was a solitary child. Darwin collected many things and was very intrigued by chemistry and gadgets. Fitzgerald describes Darwin in this article as, “a rather obsessive-compulsive and ritualistic man”.

More details http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/4680971/Charles-Darwin-had-autism-leading-psychiatrist-claims.html

Michelangelo: Outlining their evidence in the Journal of Medical Biography, Dr Arshad and Professor Fitzgerald said: “Michelangelo’s single-minded work routine, unusual lifestyle, limited interests, poor social and communication skills, and various issues of life control appear to be features of high-functioning autism or Asperger’s syndrome.”

More details http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/this-britain/was-michelangelos-artistic-genius-a-symptom-of-autism-756718.html

Andy Warholl: The symptoms include a preference for repetition, difficulty in social interactions, extreme focus and productivity, an obsession with detail, a tendency to go from the specific to the general and minimalized language. Although many historical figures are thought to have had Asperger’s, the Warhol case may be stronger due the fact that so many artefacts from his life remain.

More details http://mapmagazine.com/andy-warhol-artistic-or-autistic/

The word Autism wasn’t properly used in medical circles until the 1940’s. It is important to realise that all these men were considered different in their time. This idiosyncrasy, whether they were on the spectrum or not, helped them develop ideas that changed our world. So, shouldn’t you at least give a second look at those you consider different? Being different is not a bad thing, its a quality. It is what makes them unique, their aversion to following the crowd, and compromising to society’s dos and don’t s allows them to flourish and take an individual view of the world.

Don’t outcast Autism. Learn about it, educate yourself.

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