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Inspiring Autistics: Susan Boyle and 4 Other Celebrities Who Should Inspire You

Autism and Success

The world of autism means things are rarely easy. It means you think differently, see things differently, understand emotions differently, recognize faces differently and are simply just plain different.There is a limit to how much you can do, a limit on which courses you can take, a limit on almost everything, depending on one's level of functioning.

Living with autism also means limited role models and inspirational individuals who make you strive to become someone great. It means there are limits on your employment and career choices as well as those of parents of the autistic children.

Autism is a genetic disorder. It affects about 1 in 88 children in the United States, with males four times more likely to be diagnosed than females. Certain factors such as city pollution and weight gain leading to obesity during pregnancy are known to increase the risk of birthing children on the spectrum.

Growing up, all children need role models and all parents need inspiring individuals they can introduce to their children. Autistic children are no different. When considering the best role models, particularly if they want to push towards success, there are certain characteristics which are most important, in my opinion. These include:

  • The individual having faced immense obstacles
  • The individual having lived a life that could be related to
  • The individual having overcome the worst of odds
  • The individual having hope in his/her eyes
  • The individual having faith in his/her success

Successful Autistic Celebrities

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We all have our own list of successful celebrities who inspire us. Mine is full of rather amazing individuals who are both autistic and survivors in an unfair world. These include:

Keanu Reeves: I was first introduces to Keanu as a child in love with the Matrix series. You can imagine my surprise at finding out he is in fact a shy, workaholic man who has few friends and might just be the loneliest celebrity in Hollywood.

Susan Boyle: Boy is this woman making headlines. She first appeared on Britain's Got Talent and has soared so far up, I am sometimes afraid for her. She is not young, not beautiful by modern standards, and so very shy. Yet when she takes the stage and starts her song, even the most cynical of individuals (this most definitely includes Simon Cowell) is suddenly awestruck. 14 million albums sold and getting ready for her film debut, this is one woman worth looking up to.

Jerry Newport: Autistic savant with the ability to do any mathematical calculation in his mind, Jerry Newport's story became the basis for the 2005 movie Mozart and the Whale. He is an author, has found love and overcome the obstacles that life has placed before him. Truly inspiring.

Vernon Smith: Mild autism has its advantages as well it seems, with many moving up in the world to become inspiring stars. Vernon Smith is one of these individuals. He received a Nobel Prize in 2002 for inventing the field of experimental economics, which uses laboratory methods to test economic theories. Interesting fellow he is and after reading up on him, I find him more than worthy to be part of my list.

James Henry Pullen: Possibly one of the most intriguing figures in history for me, this man was considered part of the group of 7 characterized to be idiot savants. He moved forward in life and soon became known as the Genius of Earlswood. Though he could not communicate conventionally, he carved amazingly on wood and ivory. The crowning glory of his career was building a 10’ model of Brunel’s Great Eastern which he assembled over a three year period, complete with individually crafted anchors, pulleys, paddles and lifeboats. A perfect gem for collectors of the time and the modern world as well. His diagnosis would later be confirmed as being Asperger's Syndrome, a spectrum disorder no longer worthy of having its own category, it seems.

Life is full of unexpected possibilities. Don't ever give up and always follow through with your dreams. Susan Boyle has climbed up to reach hers after living over half a century. James Henry Pullen never developed his speech, nor insight. He lived to be an amazing carpenter who left behind an intriguing legacy. Autism does not mean that life has become limited, only that your avenues lead in a very different direction than most others.