15 Famous Americans on the Autism Spectrum

There is now more information available about autism than ever before, thanks to platforms like Instagram and TikTok, as well as TV shows such as “Atypical,” “Love on the Spectrum,” “Speechless,” and “Parenthood.” Additionally, several well-known celebrities have shared their diagnoses of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in interviews and on social media.

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) defines ASD as “a neurological and developmental disorder that affects how people interact with others, communicate, learn, and behave.” People can be diagnosed with autism at any age. Symptoms can show as early as age two. 

These 15 famous Americans have opened up about being diagnosed with ASD and have expressed the ways they have adjusted to life after learning more about autism. Mindfully American reviewed interviews and other publicly available information to put together this list of actors, writers, athletes, singers, and reality stars, encompassing a range of ages and races.

1: Daryl Hannah, Actress 

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In 2013, actress Darryl Hannah discussed her autism diagnosis in an interview with People Magazine. The “Splash” and “Kill Bill” star’s extreme shyness as a child led to her diagnosis. Stardom complicated things for Hannah as she was terrified to attend premieres or do interviews. 

Sixty-three-year-old Hannah said that she has learned techniques to make her life easier.

2: Wentworth Miller, Actor 

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In 2021, actor Wentworth Miller announced his autism diagnosis in an Instagram post. He said he self-diagnosed while in quarantine in 2020, during the early days of COVID-19. While in isolation, the Prison Break actor was formally diagnosed with ASD.  

Miller, now 51, said he was not surprised with the diagnosis and is re-examining his past.

3: Demi Burnett, Reality Star 

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“Bachelor” and “Bachelor in Paradise” star Demi Burnett was diagnosed with autism in 2022 at age 26. The star, known for her outrageous personality, took a vulnerable tone as she announced in an Instagram post that she took a psychological evaluation and learned she had ASD. 

Burnett encouraged her followers to be accepting, as she said there is often a stigma associated with autism.

4: Armani Williams, NASCAR Driver 

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NASCAR driver Armani Williams was diagnosed with autism at age two when his parents were concerned that he was nonverbal. The 24-year-old driver said in a 2022 interview that his different abilities have helped him in his career. 

He said thanks to his autism diagnosis, he can focus better on his driving skills. Williams said he hoped talking about being autistic will show how it can be a good thing.

5: David Byrne, Singer 

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David Byrne, the 72-year-old lead singer of The Talking Heads and solo artist, said he diagnosed himself with autism. A friend showed him a book on ASD, and Byrne found that he related to its symptoms. 

Regarding not seeking an official diagnosis, in a 2023 interview with National Public Radio (NPR), Byrne said that although he felt different from others, he wasn’t unhappy. He felt having autism made the way he views the world unique.

6: Heather Kuzmich, Model

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Known for appearing on Cycle 9 of “America’s Next Top Model,” Kuzmich was open about her ASD diagnosis. It was 2007; for some viewers, it was the first time they had heard of it.

Although Kuzmich had issues with some of the show’s challenges, such as struggling with eye contact, she still ended up in the top five. She went on to sign with Elite Modeling Agency.

7: Dan Aykroyd, Comedian

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“Ghostbusters,” “Blues Brothers,” and “Trading Places” star Dan Aykroyd said he was diagnosed with autism in the early 1980s. In an interview in 2013, the comic actor said he would hyperfocus on ghosts and law enforcement.

Aykroyd was also diagnosed with Tourette’s Syndrome when he was a kid and credits autism for his creativity. 

8: Tallulah Willis, Actress

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The youngest daughter of actors Bruce Willis and Demi Moore, Tallulah Willis, announced her ASD diagnosis in March on Instagram. She said it was the first time she was going public with her diagnosis.

The sometime actress Willis (she had roles in “The Whole Ten Yards,” “Bandits,” and “The Scarlet Letter”) said she found out in the summer and that it changed her life. 

 9: Dan Harmon, Screenwriter 

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“Community” creator Dan Harmon realized he was autistic while writing his character Abed (played by Danny Pudi). In a 2011 interview, he said he related to the symptoms he was reading about.  

This research led screenwriter and film producer Harmon to seek a professional diagnosis, which proved his hunch was correct.

10: Courtney Love, Singer 

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Hole lead singer, solo artist, and actress (“Man on the Moon,” “200 Cigarettes”) revealed her autism diagnosis in a 1994 interview. The often controversial artist said she began therapy at age three, and her introverted nature and delayed speech led to an autism diagnosis.

Love said she grew up in a commune and experienced all kinds of therapy as a child. 

11: Clay Marzo, Surfer

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Legendary surfer Clay Marzo was diagnosed with autism at age 18 in 2007. He has said he believes autism helped him succeed in the sport.

The documentary “Clay Marzo: Just Add Water” features footage and interviews with those close to the award-winning surfer. It delves into Marzo’s autism diagnosis and its effect on him as an athlete.  

12: Holly Madison, Reality Star

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Former “Girl Next Door” star Holly Madison discussed her autism diagnosis on an episode of the podcast “Talking to Death” in December. The reality star and model said she had suspected she was autistic as she had a lot of issues with social interaction. 

Madison said her lack of eye contact and quiet demeanor has offended some people, so she likes to disclose her diagnosis. 

13: Temple Grandin, Academic

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Temple Grandin’s first book, “Emergence: Labeled Autistic,” published in 1986, was the first to show the inner workings of someone diagnosed with ASD. The academic and animal behaviorist, now 76, has an award-winning film on her life, “Temple Grandin,” which stars Claire Danes.

The now-activist Grandin didn’t speak until she was almost four and has a website featuring stats, articles, and information on autism. 

14: Joe Barksdale, Former Athlete

Football on a football field.
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Former NFL player Joe Barksdale was diagnosed with autism at age 30. The football star played offensive tackle for the Los Angeles Chargers, the Oakland Raiders, and the St. Louis Rams. 

In a 2022 interview, Barksdale said he often stimmed and had trouble sitting still. He said his diagnosis helped him become happier with who he is. He has switched careers to comedy and singing.

15: Amber Borzotra, Reality Star

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“Challenge” winner and “Big Brother” contestant Amber Borzotra was diagnosed with autism in her 30s. She said in a 2023 interview that she was nervous about discussing the diagnosis at first for fear of being judged.

Borzotra, now age 36, said she soon realized nothing was wrong with her and started embracing her uniqueness. 

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