Famous Autistic Women

Daryl Hannah

Daryl Hannah

Daryl Hannah received a diagnosis of autism as a child. The symptoms that she exhibited as a child were a need to rock her self as a form of self-soothing, a debilitating level of shyness that meant public events were horrific for her. At the time of her diagnosis, the medical professionals believed that the best course of action for her was to be heavily medicated and institutionalized. Ignoring this recommendation, she instead went on to be an extremely well-known Hollywood actress of the 1980’s and 90’s, staring in films alongside Tom Hanks. Today she is no longer a part of Hollywood and instead has retired and is considered a recluse.

Susan Boyle

Susan Boyle was diagnosed with Asperger’s in 2012 at the age of 51. She became famous after appearing on Britain’s got talent in 2009 and went on to become one of Britain’s bestselling artists. What is unfortunate in the case of Susan Boyle is that she was misdiagnosed as a child and was told that she had brain damage. Talking about her new diagnosis Boyle said “I was told I had brain damage. I always knew it was an unfair label. Now I have a clearer understanding of what’s wrong and I feel relieved and a bit more relaxed about myself.” (Boyle, 2013)

Barbara McClintock

Barbara McClintock was Nobel prize winning geneticist. She was particularly focused on her work and at times concentrated so much that she would forget anything else that needed to be done. She was very particular about her choice of clothing. Again, she was a recluse and would do anything to avoid the lime light. This was also the case when it came to receiving her Nobel prize and she nearly didn’t accept it

Temple Grandin

Temple Grandin was diagnosed as a child and it was recommended that she be institutionalised. Her father would have followed this advice however her mother didn’t accept it. As a child her speech was delayed and had a troubled school life. She now sits as a named TIME’s 100 most influential people as an animal scientist. She has written many books on Autism and on humane treatment of animals (particularly cows). She has achieved a PhD and is a professor at Colorado State University.

Anne Hegerty

Anne Hegerty was diagnosed at the age of 47. She has become famous after appearing on many quiz shows on British TV, such as Fifteen to One, Mastermind, Brain of Britain and Are you an Egghead. Later she became a regular on the quiz the chase, under her character of the Governess. She has said that she has a real difficulty in multitasking and that ultimately once lead her to lose her job. Despite being clearly intelligent and able, she was unable to maintain a job, which lead her into major financial problems with bailiffs attending her home after she couldn’t pay her bills. After receiving a diagnosis, she said “There was a relief because it’s a syndrome so it’s a whole load of various behaviours” (Hegerty 2017)

Emily Dickinson

Emily Dickinson was a poet in the 1800’s. She was not diagnosed with autism as the condition was not at that time acknowledged, however looking at her behaviour now it is commonly believed that she was autistic. Her writing was very unconventional for its time and she was considered eccentric.   She had an extremely sensitive sense of smell and had a fascination with flowers. She was also a recluse.