Famous Women With Asperger’s

Updated January 01, 2019

Reviewer Laura Angers

Asperger's Syndrome has been showing up in the media on a more regular basis. A diagnosis that many people have not understood for years is starting to make its way into the conversation. With the added attention, the stigma that surrounds the diagnosis is starting to change. But Asperger's is more often associated with men, and it's still not commonly understood how it impacts women. However, Asperger's is not something that needs to stand in your way of success. You've probably heard a long list of successful men that have or are suspected to have, Asperger's like Thomas Jefferson and Bill Gates, but there are also a lot of famous women with Asperger's.

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Why Women With Asperger's Are Often Misdiagnosed

Unfortunately, women with Asperger are often misdiagnosed or not diagnosed at all. The main characteristics of people with Asperger's do not differ based on their gender. However, that doesn't stop the misdiagnosis and lack of diagnosis for females. Some of the experiences that a woman might have included the following:

  • As a child finding that her interests are different from her peers and that she prefers to have very few friends.
  • She appears out of touch with what the trends are and chooses to wear clothes because she is comfortable in them and not because they are fashionable.
  • She may change her behavior based on the social situation that she is in. For example, she may remain isolated while at school but come out of her shell in the comfort of her own home.
  • When asked to perform socially she might shut down or overly focus on rituals and routines in the situation.

A common characteristic of people diagnosed with Asperger's is that they have very specific interests that they focus on. While the topic of their focus could be anything, there are some tendencies including computers, astronomy, and transportation among men. Among women, the specific interests tend to be based around the arts, animals, environmental activism and relational themes.

While the stigma around gender roles are decreasing, they do still exist, and it can create a bigger problem for women with Asperger's. Historically it has been believed that all women are more relational than men. It's also long been believed that women are more social than men. These are areas that women with Asperger's might not be as comfortable. Therefore, there can be a large gap between the expectations placed on these women and what they realistically can and want to do.

Famous Women With Asperger's Or On The Autism Spectrum

Dawn Prince-Hughes

Dawn Prince-Hughes was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome at the age of 38. She is most known for her work with gorillas. She has written multiple books including Songs of the Gorilla Nation: My Journey Through Autism. When she was 15, she ran away from home after being bullied in school. She used the money she was able to make to go to the Woodland Park Zoo where she found a connection with the gorillas. From that moment she was hooked and started a career as an anthropologist. She earned both a master's degree and Ph.D. in interdisciplinary anthropology. She is associated with the Jane Goodall Institute.

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Liane Holliday Willey

When Liane Holliday Willey was 35, she was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome. As a child, she struggled with the unfamiliar including places, sounds, and people that invaded her personal space. She went on to obtain a doctorate in education with a specialty in psycholinguists. She has taught as a professor for 15 years, written multiple self-help books for people living with autism, and is a motivational speaker.

Ladyhawke (Phillipa Margaret Brown)

Philippa Margaret Brown is also known as Ladyhawke. She has released three solo indie rock albums. She credits her knack for the guitar and love of music to her diagnosis with Asperger's Syndrome. Ladyhawke spent her childhood developing her musical talent, and it paid off for her big in 2009 when she took home six awards from the New Zealand Music Awards.

Jessica-Jane Applegate

At the age of 15, Jessica-Jane Applegate won a gold medal in the Paralympic Games as the first British woman to do so. Her first time in a pool was when she was only a few months old, and she was swimming competitively by the age of 10. She won a gold medal in the Women's 200m freestyle, and then three medals at the IPC World Championships. She now travels across the UK as a speaker sharing her personal story.

Susan Boyle

Susan Boyle became a well-recognized name when she took 2nd place in Britain's Got Talent back in 2009. When she was born, the doctors misdiagnosed her with brain damage. Later it was discovered that her true diagnosis was Asperger's Syndrome.

Daryl Hannah

Daryl Hannah is a well-known America actress. She is most known for doing several films back in the 1980's. She's a great inspiration for Hollywood since she struggled in her younger years with social situations. Hannah has recalled in interviews that as a child doctors wanted to have her institutionalized, but her mother wouldn't allow it.

Emily Dickinson

Emily Dickinson is easily one of the most well-recognized poets in history. She is often quoted. It is also believed that she had Asperger's.

Heather Kuzmich

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Heather Kuzmich was the 4th runner-up on season 9 of America's Next Top Model. She is currently a fashion model and is studying video game design. She struggles with her communication skills as part of her diagnosis with Asperger's. This ultimately ended up being one of the reasons why she was eliminated from ANTM.

Don't Let Asperger's Syndrome Hold You Back

Autism and Asperger's are starting to get a lot of attention lately. In the past, Asperger's was something that many people didn't know about, and those that did truly didn't understand what the diagnosis meant. However, the new attention that the diagnosis is getting is helping to shed some light on the disorder.

The list of successful people with Asperger's is long and continues to grow. From models to scientists to athletes and authors, anything is possible. Here are some tips to help you live successfully with Asperger's.

Understand Your Weaknesses

Each person has their struggles with Asperger's. But, that doesn't mean that you have to let your weakness get in your way. Learn to embrace your weakness. If you pretend that they don't exist, you won't be able to overcome them. Instead, acknowledge what they are and then learn ways to work around them.

Practice Greetings And Networking "Rules."

You may not be comfortable in social settings, but if you are in a position that is going to require you to network than invest time into learning the "rules" of networking. Practice the greetings that you can use when you see people and make sure you familiarize yourself with how the event will go.

Basic Living Skills

Depending on how extreme your challenges are, for some, your first step might be to learn basic living skills so that you can venture out on your own. This includes how to maintain a home and car, how to do housework, and handle your finances.

Recognition Of Isolation And Depression

This is a tip that is good for every person. It's important that you understand the signs of isolation and depression. Since many people with Asperger's struggle with communication, social settings, and relationships it can be easy to withdrawal and become isolated. When you can spot the signs, you can get the help you need before it's too late.

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Talk To A Therapist

It's always helpful to have an experienced therapist that you can turn to when you are going through trying times in life. Better Help has a large team of online therapist that can make getting help easy and convenient for you. It allows you to remove the uncomfortable social situation that you may be dreading about seeing a therapist while still having someone to talk to.

Discover What You Are Passionate About

The intense interest that many people with Asperger's have for a specific topic can be turned into career success. Take time to discover what your passion is. Then use your love for that topic and drive to learn about and participate in it to set yourself on the right career path. The names of the women listed above made this list because they were able to do this. This is a great way to turn something that some might think is a "weakness" into a success that is hard for others to compete with.

As the world continues to grow in their understanding of Asperger's those that have been diagnosed can show the world how they are using it as an advantage. The struggles that you have come with strengths that you can embrace. The women on this list were able to specialize in their area of success because of their diagnosis, not in spite of it. Don't view your diagnosis as something to set you back. Instead, view it as something that makes you uniquely you which will allow you to succeed in a way that only you can.

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