11 Historical Figures Who May Have Had Autism

They may not have been formally diagnosed during their lifetime, but they displayed some of the most common signs of autism.

albert einstein

Some believe that autism spectrum disorder – a developmental disorder which impairs the ability to communicate and interact – was only developed during modern times. But clues engrained in the lives of some historical figures say otherwise. They may have been undiagnosed while they were alive, but many historians and scientists have dissected their traits – most of which point to them being on the spectrum.

We may not know whether they were high-functioning or if they were dealing with a mild form of Asperger syndrome, but here’s a look at some of the historical figures that had some autistic qualities.


1. Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the US and the author of the Declaration of Independence, displayed many of the tell-tale signs of autism, according to Norm Ledgin, the author of Diagnosing Jefferson: Evidence of a Condition that Guided His Beliefs, Behavior, and Personal Associations.

Jefferson was extremely shy and had difficulty connecting with people – especially when it came to verbal communication. Sure, he was extremely intelligent, but he cracked under the pressure of public speaking and was reportedly sensitive to loud noises – a common sensory disorder that plagues many who are on the spectrum.

The author noted Jefferson’s financial struggles, the fact that he died in debt, his nuisances which included him wearing house slippers to important meetings, and his compulsion with decorating and organizing his home as other signs of ASD.

Thomas Jefferson
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