Monday, April 8, 2019

10 Famous Autistic People in History

This post is the continuation of #Puzzled with Autism campaign, which will be running until end of April as it was extended due to highly positive response and demand.

In the first case of autism, Dr. Leo Kanner used the term to diagnose a social and emotional disorder.  Though it wasn't until 1943 that “autism” was used as a diagnostic term, it is certainly not anything new. Indeed, history is full of people who many consider to be or have been somewhere on the autism spectrum. I have picked 10 famous people who most likely you know, but may not have known them as autistic.

Michelangelo (6 March 1475 – 18 February 1564) – Sculptor, Painter, Architect, Poet
Michelangelo’s artistic genius may have been a symptom of autism.  Michelangelo had obsessional behaviour, a fiery temper, and tendency to be a loner which could be signs of autism.   Michelangelo was also obsessive and followed repetitive routines.  If he did not follow these routines, it would create great frustration.   Michelangelo has been described as strange, without affect, and isolated, as well as being “preoccupied with his own private reality. Such characteristics, all of which were determined through dozens of contemporary notes and letters, are consistent with those with high-functioning autism and may have helped him become the creatively artistic individual he is famous for.

Sir Isaac Newton (25 December 1642 – 20 March 1726) – Mathematician, Astronomer, & Physicist
Evidence from researchers at Cambridge University suggests that Isaac Newton had Asperger’s Syndrome. Newton isolated himself as much as possible and was notoriously awkward when it came to typical daily conversation. He was not good at keeping friends, and relied strongly upon routines. Lastly, there are a number of reports that suggest that he was often so focused on his work, that he went for days at a time without eating or sleeping.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (27 January 1756 – 5 December 1791) – Classical Composer
Most scholars agree that musical maestro Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was somewhere on the spectrum. Mozart was allegedly extremely sensitive to loud noises, had a notoriously short attention span, and could fly through a cycle of facial expressions within seconds. In one well-documented incident, a bored Mozart began doing cartwheels and vaults over tables while meowing loudly like a cat.

Charles Darwin (12 February 1809 – 19 April 1882) – Naturalist, Geologist, and Biologist
Trinity College professor Michael Fitzgerald, a leading psychiatrist, researched and published a paper concluding that Charles Darwin had Asperger’s Syndrome. There are records from Darwin’s childhood that state he was a very quiet and isolated child, who avoided interaction with others as much as he could. Like so many others with Asperger’s, he sought alternative ways of communicating, such as writing letters. He had fixations with certain topics like chemistry, but was a very visual thinker — all traits of someone on the autism spectrum.

Albert Einstein (14 March 1879 – 18 April 1955) – Scientist & Mathematician
Perhaps the most famous scientist and mathematician in history, Albert Einstein had a number of interesting and possibly telling characteristics. For one, he had trouble socializing, especially as an adult. As a child, he experienced severe speech delays and later echolalia, or the habit of repeating sentences to himself. And of course, there is the fact that Einstein was incredibly technical. Such characteristics have led many experts to conclude that he appeared somewhere on the autism spectrum.

Woody Allen (1 December 1935 – present) - American Director, Writer, Actor, and Comedian
Though it has never been explicitly stated that three-time Oscar winner Woody Allen is on the Autism Spectrum, both Allen himself and various experts seem to agree that that’s likely the case. The writer, director, actor, and musician is well known for his quirky ways. As Allen has stated, “I am a neurotic in a more benign way. I mean, I have a lot of neurotic habits. I don’t like to go into elevators, I don’t go through tunnels, I like the drain in the shower to be in the corner and not in the middle.”

Sir Anthony Hopkins (31 December 1937 – present) - Welsh Actor, Director, and Producer
On a list of the greatest living actors, Sir Anthony Hopkins would almost certainly be included. The actor, who won an Oscar for portraying Hannibal Lector in 
The Silence of the Lambs, has been diagnosed with high-functioning Asperger’s Syndrome (though Hopkins hasn’t said at what point in his life he received the diagnosis). When talking about the way being on the Autism Spectrum affects him, Hopkins says, “I don’t go to parties, I don’t have many friends, but I do like people.”

Temple Grandin (29 August 1947 – present) - Professor of animal science and autism Spokesperson
Temple Grandin, who revolutionized the livestock industry with her focus on the humane treatment of animals, was diagnosed with autism as a child. Grandin earned countless accolades, including a doctoral degree, and her life inspired an Emmy award winning HBO film starring Claire Danes. She is one of the first individuals on the autism spectrum to publicly share insights from her personal experience of autism. She also invented the "hug box" - device to calm those on the autism spectrum. In fact, Grandin is one of many women diagnosed with autism who have gone on to break down barriers across fields ranging from entertainment to anthropology. 

Susan Boyle (1 April 1961 – present) – Scottish Singer
In April 2009, Susan Boyle, a middle-aged church volunteer from a small town in Scotland, auditioned for Britain's Got Talent with her favourite song "I Dreamed a Dream"—and more than 200 million video views later, she had captured the attention of the world for her soaring vocals and humble personality. Though she didn't win, Boyle went on to release seven albums, including 2009's I Dreamed A Dream, which became the fastest selling UK debut of all time and skyrocketed to the top of the Billboard charts. The rise to fame came as a surprise to Boyle, who was often bullied as a child. It wasn't until she turned 51 that she was diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome. Boyle has gone on to headline her own international singing tour, appear in everything from a musical based on her own life to Zoolander 2, and has even performed for the Queen.

Jessica-Jane Applegate (22 August 1996 – present) - British Paralympic Swimmer
When she was just 15, Applegate became the first British woman with Asperger's to win a gold medal at the Paralympic Games. She brought home the gold for the Women's 200m freestyle at the London games and went on to win three more medals the following year at the IPC World Championships in Montreal: gold in the 200m freestyle, silver in the 200m medley, and bronze in the 100m freestyle. Applegate dipped into a pool for the first time when she was just a few months old when her mother took her to a local swimming club. By age 10, Applegate began competing regularly, and she has gone on to shatter records, all while visiting schools and swim groups across the UK to share her inspiring story.

These are just a few famous people among thousands of talented autistic. Who do you find the most inspirational? Always happy to hear your thoughts in comments.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Autism Myth Busting

Our Autism Awareness fundraising campaign is running and the word about it is spreading. I'm delighted so many people responded to it and expressed their support. Here is our next blogpost relating to autism discussing the myths surrounding it.

There are so many myths circulating about autism it’s sometimes hard to be sure what’s true, or what autism actually is. But I think that Autism Awareness Month is the perfect time to correct some of people’s misapprehensions—so here’s a handy list busting some of the most common myths about autism:

Myth: Autism is a bad thing.
Truth: Autism isn’t bad or good - it is a condition. While there are some aspects of life that are harder for autistics to deal with, there are also some benefits and positive aspects.

Myth: Autism is an illness.
Truth: Autism is a condition that is present from birth. No one is quite sure what causes it yet, but they think genetics have something to do with it. However, it is most certainly not an illness and can’t be caught from vaccines either.

Myth: Autistic people are unintelligent/stupid.
Truth: Autism brings with it just as many exceptional abilities as challenges. Many people with autism have normal to high IQs and some may excel at math, music or another pursuit. Lots of autistic people have highly intelligent and innovative ways of thinking, just have a great deal of difficulty communicating with the world around them or little interest in doing so. You shouldn’t judge a person based on their autism, just as you shouldn’t judge someone based on their gender or race. And just because someone’s mind works in a way different to yours, that doesn’t mean they are stupid — instead, you could make an effort to understand.

Myth: Only men can be autistic.
Truth: Autism is more commonly diagnosed in men, but it is thought to be equally prevalent among men and women. The reason women are less often diagnosed because autism has traditionally been seen as an extreme form of the male brain, and have lots of male coded traits. Often, autism and women manifests itself differently, including social masking of autistic traits.

Myth: Autistic people are bad employees.
Truth: Autistic people are fantastically innovative and valuable additions to your workplace. They help bring in new perspectives and ideas. Autistic brains work differently, not worse, than neurotypical ones; employing neurodiverse workers can bring lots of fresh potential into your workplace.

Myth: Autism only exists in children.
Truth: Children with autism grow up to become adults with autism. Autism affects people of all ages. It’s previously been ignored in adults, particularly those who have grown up masking their autistic traits. Previously, if you got through childhood without being diagnosed, your autism would go unacknowledged. Now, however, there are more opportunities for late diagnosis becoming available, and many say finding out that they are autistic has changed their lives.

Myth: Autism is caused by bad parenting.
Truth: In the 1950s, there was a theory suggesting that autism was caused by mothers who lacked emotional warmth. This has long been disproved. So far there isn’t explanation what is the cause of autism.

Myth: Autistic can’t feel or express emotions
Truth: Autism doesn’t make an individual unable to feel the emotions you feel, it just makes the person communicate emotions (and perceive your expressions) in different ways. Autism often affects an individual’s ability to understand unspoken interpersonal communication, so someone with autism might not detect sadness based solely on one’s body language or sarcasm in one’s tone of voice. But, when emotions are communicated more directly, people with autism are much more likely to feel empathy and compassion for others. Also, autistic are able to learn ‘reading’ emotions and face expressions.

Would you like to add any more? Which myth affects you most? Share your views in comments.

And... another treat for you from our dedicated Autism Awareness Jewellery Collection -

 Sterling Silver Jigsaw Piece Stud Earrings


UPDATE - we have a winner!

Thank you all for taking part in my giveaway which was my first, but certainly not the last!  Keep checking my blog for more competitions coming.  

Silver Puzzle Piece Studs

Monday, April 1, 2019

Puzzled with Autism campaign

Raising the awareness through jewellery

It is an awareness campaign run by House of Silver to raise  awareness about autism. Autism’s complexity and the difficulties of dealing with it in modern society can make it quite difficult for many people to handle, whether it’s themselves or a family member who is affected.

About us 

House of Silver is an online family run jewellery shop specialising in affordable Sterling silver jewellery. We are also passionate inclusive employers with our own dedicated autistic staff, and autistic family members. We want to help raise awareness of and fundraise for autism, and we are doing this through our very special Puzzled with Autism campaign.

We’re proud of being a family with autistic members as well as employees, and we want to let the world know that it’s not something to be ashamed of. And it’s not just a token for one day awareness of the year. Autistic people are here. They are valuable. And they are around us. We want everyone to remember that.

Puzzled with Autism Campaign: Autism Awareness Jewellery Collection

We are excited to launch a dedicated jewellery collection that was specially selected and crafted by our team of designers. The inspiration came with the idea that so many people get puzzled with the autism just because they are not aware of it. This collection aims to draw non-autistic people's attention and provide them with awareness as well as support autistic and their family members. We believe that jewellery is a powerful mean of spreading the word. The puzzle piece has been chosen as the main symbol for a number of reasons: it is international symbol, it has versatile meaning which can be personalised and most importantly it shows that autism is a part of the 'big picture' where all of us are interconnected. We have also included awareness ribbon and infinity symbol to acknowledge a variety of autism perceptions.

But what makes this collection particularly important?

With lots of awareness campaigns, they take up one day of the year — but we’re here to remind you that autism is for life, and that we should be proud about it. That’s why we’re creating our awareness symbols from solid Sterling silver, making signs that won’t just be thrown away after one day. Moreover, we want to emphasise that our items are all special and valuable in themselves—just like everyone with autism. We hope that with them, we can promote being proud about being autistic.

End of Autumn Competition

Competition is now closed. Congratulations to the winner - Claire from Yorkshire! As usual, choose one prize from below and enjoy thes...