Famous People With Autism
Famous people with autism provide hope and encouragement to those with autism and the people around them. Albert Einstein perhaps achieved some of his greatest discoveries as a result of being gifted with a unique ability to look differently at the world around him.
Though autism was not identified during the lifetime of Albert Einstein, when you begin to match known autism spectrum disorder traits with what has been written about him, we begin to recognize autistic like symptoms in his personality. He is one of my favorite of famous people with autism.
He was slow to learn and talk. His mother was disturbed by how long it took him to learn how to talk. His elementary school teachers thought that he was a foolish dreamer, and one teacher had even asked him to drop out of his class.
Even at the age of nine Einstein spoke hesitantly, and his parents feared that he was below average intelligence. He also liked private games, such as building a house of cards. He developed a peculiar habit of constructing whole sentences before uttering a single word. His lips would move, silently reciting the sentence, and then he would speak all of it at once.
At age 10, Einstein left elementary school and enrolled in the Luitpold Gymnasium. It was here Albert began to show his brilliance and received good grades. However, before long he began to clash with the system and his grades started to slip. Many of the teachers were fixed in their ways, and taught their lessons with little imagination. The headmaster has been quoted as declaring "nothing would ever become of him." Ironically, when the school was totally destroyed in World War II and rebuilt on a different site, it was renamed the Albert Einstein Gymnasium.
Although he generally got good grades (and was outstanding in mathematics), Einstein hated the schools he was sent to where success depended on memorization and obedience to arbitrary authority. One of his teachers suggested Einstein leave school, since his very presence destroyed the other students' respect for the teacher.
In June of 1894, when the Einstein family moved to Italy, Albert was left behind in a boarding school until he completed his final 3 years at the gymnasium. With an eternity of rote learning, severe discipline and tedium stretching ahead of him, he fell into a deep depression. He lasted only 6 months, after which he convinced a doctor to sign a medical certificate that stated he was suffering from a nervous disorder. Upon announcing to the principal of the gymnasium that he was leaving, he was curtly informed that he was, in fact, expelled.
After arriving in Italy, Albert decided to take the entrance examination to the Eitgenossissche Technische Hochschule in Zurich. He failed the entrance exam. He then enrolled in a small cantonal school in the Swiss town of Aarau. At this school there was no force feeding of knowledge. Emphasis was on independent thought and conceptual thinking. It was one of the happiest years of Einstein's youth. The school was exactly suited to Einstein's personality.
In college he often cut classes and used the time to study physics on his own or to play his beloved violin. He passed his examinations and graduated in 1900 by studying the notes of a classmate. His professors did not think highly of him and would not recommend him for a university position.
To the parents of a child on the autism spectrum, this will probably all sound familiar. Teacher/parents conferences are not enjoyable. Even if your child does not become one of the famous people with autism, their accomplishments can be phenomenal with proper guidance and encouragement.
In his final years Albert Einstein amused himself by telling jokes to his parrot, and avoided visitors by pretending he was ill. Einstein, like many brilliant minds, was an eccentric who set himself apart from people and family to research in solitude while being a public figure supporting issues that he believed in.
He was quoted, "My passionate sense of social justice and social responsibility has always contrasted oddly with my pronounced lack of need for direct contact with other human beings and human communities. I am truly a 'lone traveler' and have never belonged to my country, my home, my friends, or even my immediate family, with my whole heart; in the face of all these ties, I have never lost a sense of distance and a need for solitude..."
Though there are many famous people with autism, their way may not be the way of your child. Each person has their own individual strengths, drives, and dreams. Encouraging those strengths will help lead the way to a successful happy life for the person in your life with autism.
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