Daryl Hannah was diagnosed as autistic as a kid, which led to ‘debilitating shyness’

There was a time when Daryl Hannah was the hottest thing around. That time, my children, was the ‘80s. She did a quick succession of interesting hit movies like Splash, Roxanne, Wall Street, Steel Magnolias, and one of my favorite films of all time, Legal Eagles. This was around the same time that she was dating John F. Kennedy Jr. I think they even lived together in NYC for several years too, but Jackie Kennedy basically told John-John that Daryl was not marriage material and so he broke it off and ended up with Carolyn Bessette. And you know how the rest of it played out.

Anyway, getting back to Daryl – her career sort of faltered for a while and then she had a minor comeback (with Kill Bill) and then… not so much. It wouldn’t surprise me to learn that she still had a lot of friends in the industry, but it also wouldn’t surprise me to learn that many people who know her think she’s a bit wacky (in a harmless way). So… this makes sense, sort of. Apparently, Daryl is autistic?

Daryl Hannah has revealed that she was diagnosed with Autism as a child and struggled ‘debilitating shyness’ as a result of the disorder. Now 52, Hannah – who reached the very peak of her profession through roles in smash hits like Splash, Blade Runner, Wall Street and Steel Magnolias – is able to quietly manage her symptoms.

But as she rose through the Hollywood hierarchy it was a different story altogether.

‘I’ve never been comfortable being the center of attention,’ the stunning blonde – who dated John Kennedy Jnr. – star told People. ‘It’s always freaked me out.’

The Chicago reared beauty said at times her shyness would become so overwhelming that she would rock back and forward constantly.

‘I’m a grown up now,’ she told the magazine. ‘I’ve learned a couple of things that really would’ve made my life easier if I’d known them 20 years ago.’

Hannah, who became famous as a teenager, said that she concealed her autism from movie producers and refused to do promotional interviews or talk show appearances, ‘not because I was above it, but because I was terrified.’

She added: ‘I wasted so much time scared, self-conscious and insecure.’

Now the limelight has moved elsewhere, the comfortable star says her roles have changed but she’s happy. With a boyfriend of three years, a rescue pig called Molly and and a farm near L.A, her life has changed dramatically.

‘Life is too short to stress the small things anymore.’

[From The Mail]

I remember how she used to be, and I don’t think people called her snobby or whatever. Most people just thought she marched to the beat of her own drummer. I think she was considered sort of spacey hippie bohemian type. But the autism diagnosis is very interesting and it makes me reconsider her career and her past interviews. I’m guessing that she was diagnosed with one of the more manageable forms of autism, like Asperger’s Syndrome. You know who else has Asperger’s? Steven Spielberg. I always associate Asperger’s Syndrome with “savant” qualities, but just as often, it can just mean extreme social and private awkwardness.

Though this is the first time I’ve ever heard about Daryl’s autism diagnosis, apparently she has referenced it before in a handful of other interviews.

Photos courtesy of WENN.

 

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

96 Responses to “Daryl Hannah was diagnosed as autistic as a kid, which led to ‘debilitating shyness’”

Comments are Closed

We close comments on older posts to fight comment spam.

  1. doofus says:

    too bad she f-ed up her face with plastic surgery. always liked her, though, and she was GREAT in Kill Bill.

  2. aims says:

    I have an Autistic child, so I always find it interesting to hear people with Autism talk about it. My daughter is very severe, and has a hard time telling us things. So it’s nice to hear some perspective into this mystery.

    • Nicolette says:

      My son is Asperger’s/ADD, and I too am interested when successful people discuss their own diagnosis and the issues they have dealt with through life. That Steven Spielberg has Asperger’s I did not know, that was a surprise to hear.

      I know there are many very successful people out there, not just in Hollywood, that are affected and I wish they would all really come out and talk about it and discuss how they managed their disorder to be able to achieve the level of success they have. It would be a great help to those of us out here who have children falling in the spectrum.

      Social issues and shyness are a huge issue. My son is in a new class and doesn’t know many of the kids. His shyness is getting the best of him, and I want him to be able to open up a bit. That’s with kids. Put him with adults and he is totally in his element, relaxed and talking up a storm.

      He didn’t become verbal until after the age of three. Before that it was a lot of screaming and crying. I just would try to not give him something he was pointing at until he tried to speak. Now he talks from the moment he wakes up until bedtime. A friend has a two year old Autistic son that will not speak, and she has therapists coming to her house five days a week. It’s a struggle for sure. Hang in there. :)

      • Erinn says:

        My brother has Aspergers – he’s probably one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met. He’s 21 now. He doesn’t work, but he’s super into art, and spends a lot of time drawing and doing some writing. He’s super capable with most things, but he’s slow with math, and trying to get his point across.

      • Dirtnap says:

        @Nicolette, my son has Asperger’s
        too, and I also find myself wishing that more adults, especially well-known adults, on the spectrum would come forward and talk about their experiences, how they (and their parents!) coped with challenges and also to educate others. It would help so many to navigate this territory. Reading about Daryl helped me today.

      • Maddie says:

        @ERINN

        IF your brother is into ART have him look up IMAGINEFX.com.

      • Esmom says:

        @Nicolette, I have a 14 year old son with Asperger’s whose younger self sounds a bit like yours. His expressive language has always been delayed and it’s only very recently that he’s become more comfortable with his peers. I’m happy to say that he’s blossomed in a way I would have never imagined. He plays trumpet in two bands at school and is involved in several sports (his athleticism came very late) and also does very well academically, all with very little support at this point. He has real friends who seem to get his quirks and even find them charming. Most of all he’s happy — and really isn’t that all we want for our kids?

        I also wish we’d hear more from celebs and other successful people who’ve done well despite the challenges of being on the spectrum. I think society — which often places such importance on conformity — has a lot to learn from their unique minds and gentle souls.

    • Jany says:

      @Nicolette: There are v. succesful people out there with Asperger, but Spielberg is NOT one of them I’m afraid. It’s an internet rumour. If you do a Google search you’ll see. It was so wide spread that his publicist had to deny it to outlets asking.

      • aims says:

        @Erinn, My daughter is an amazing artist. We believe that’s her way of communication. She can look at something once and draw it perfectly. Whenever we praise her or ask questions, she gets agitated and defensive. Her pictures are her thoughts. Art is my daughter’s compulsion. It’s where she goes into her world. It’s a blessing and a curse.

      • Esmom says:

        @aims, your daughter sounds amazing. And funny, my Aspie son is almost always defensive and often hostile when being praised or asked questions. (With me, anyway, he manages to suppress that at school, thankfully.) I’ve often wondered what that’s all about.

    • gg says:

      The more autism is discussed and taught how to overcome, the better. I find it very heartening to hear these success stories, from people who go from very dysfunctional to very functional. It seems like we have a long way to go but are starting to understand this varying condition.

  3. RJ says:

    Autism is a spectrum disorder, so it can be relatively “mild”. It’s crazy to think when I started doing research on it in the ’80s, one out of every 10,000 children were diagnosed with it, 30 yrs later it’s one out of every 8.
    Loved her in Kill Bill. She always reminded me of the Kim Basinger type, very private, shy, and uncomfortable in front of the paparazzi

    • mimifarrow says:

      One out of 8…that is staggering. A friend of mine has 3 children, two of which have moderate/severe autism. Do you know what the odds are of having two children with autism? Also the studies on twins with autism is interesting too, but I digress.
      Also: love Daryl forever, regardless of what she has chosen to do to her face.

      • Lucrezia says:

        Not as rare as you might think. If one child has autism, the risk of their sibling is something like 20 times the risk of the general population.

        It’s a bit tricky explaining why though. It could be genetic, it could be perinatal (aka something to do with the pregnancy), but part of it is could be the simple fact that once you have one kid with a disorder you’re obviously much more aware, so kids with mild autism (who might otherwise be missed) will get diagnosed if their sibling is already diagnosed.

        So it’s something you’d have to look at on a case-by-case basis.

        (My honours thesis was on genetics of ADHD … so I’m not an autism expert, but I did learn a lot about spectrum disorders and heritability.)

    • j.eyre says:

      Wow, I had no idea the numbers had jumped to that ratio.

      Did you have any funding in the 80s for the research? You must have been fighting an uphill battle back then.

    • Lucrezia says:

      Out of curiosity, are you pro or anti on the DSM-V revision (folding Asperger’s back into the spectrum)?

      I’m pro, but it’s not really my area. I’d love to hear your expert opinion.

      • Joy says:

        I do in home therapy with autistic children and I am pro. It truly is a spectrum with so many variants and putting it onto a spectrum relieves some of the pressure of having to get so specific with symptoms. That’s just me though.

      • Amanda_M87 says:

        I thought they got rid of the Asperger’s label recently. It makes more sense to put all related conditions down as Autistic Spectrum disorders IMO.

      • Jigli says:

        Lucrezia, where could one find your thesis on ADHD? i’m working on a doctoral thesis on the subject, and loved reading your comments here. thanks!

      • Lucrezia says:

        @ Jigli – Not published, it wasn’t of that calibre, it was just for an honours year (optional 4th year of a 3 year BPsych). Life got in the way, and I never continued my studies.

        But I can definitely recommend the work of my old professor: David Hay, who is widely published: e.g., http://www.amazon.com/Attention-Genes-ADHD-Florence-Levy/dp/1841691933

        Good scientist (dry facts and figures), but amazing humanist, as in he had a great grasp of the real-life impact of mental illness and the fact that real-life is never black and white, always shades of grey.

        He ran a small class at my uni which focused on obscure ethical dilemmas. Not obvious stuff like don’t sleep with your clients. Stuff like DNA testing for Parkinson’s (how accurate is it? would you even want to know? what if half the family want to know and half don’t?). Or what it’s like to be the healthy sibling of an ill child (jealous of attention? are you going to have to be responsible for your sibling after your parents die? how is that going to affect your own kids?).

        After 3yrs of psych, you kinda get excited that you can diagnose people. Ahha! You have X! Hay’s class was a much-needed course in sympathy: great, they have X … now what does that actually mean for their life?

        I think that humanist approach peeks through in a lot of his writing.

    • Nicolette says:

      The numbers are stunning. You have to wonder what on earth is causing it. There has to be some common link, and I wish they would figure it out already.

      • Lucrezia says:

        There’s not a drastic increase in the real number of cases, just in the number getting diagnosed.

        If you look at the stats, the increase in autism is matched by a big decrease in mental retardation.

      • gg says:

        @ Lucrezia – wow!
        This conversation is very interesting.

      • Lauren says:

        Lucrezia – that doesn’t make sense to me. Autism and mental retardation can (and frequently do) occur together. Autism is on Axis I and conditions like MR are on Axis II. MR is based on an IQ in a certain age causing impairment, with onset before the age of 18. Why would autism affect MR diagnoses?

      • Lucrezia says:

        @ Lauren: think practically. If there is no extra/different support between MR and Autism, then there is no practical point in formally diagnosing both. To be very blunt, the approach was basically to use MR as the catch-all for untreatable cases: sorry – your kid is not normal, nothing we can do. Put him/her in special ed, (or in the worst cases an institution) and hope for the best.

        But as the psycho-social treatments for Autism advanced, it became more important to differentiate Autism cases (where treatment might work) from other disorders. It’s so important because Autism therapy is extremely intensive and expensive – you can’t just give one-one-one intensive therapy to everyone. If a child has MR or MR & Autism then they’re not going to get the same level of support.

        The other problem is that you can’t easily differentiate between MR and actually-bright-enough-but-in-no-mood-to-play-along-with-your-darn-IQ-test. Any kid with moderate to severe Autism is going to do badly on a standardised test. How can you tell if it’s actually low IQ or simple inability (or unwillingness) to cooperate? Or even lack of experience. This (http://www.asatonline.org/resources/clinician/mental) is a gorgeous story about a child with severe Autism, who’d progressed with treatment but still failed to ID common items on an IQ test. Turns out the problem was that, due to his previously severe disability, the kid had never been taken to seen a cow (or whatever). Given a road trip, he managed to then correctly ID the things he’d missed. Was this child ever actually intellectually disabled?

        Put all those factors together, and you can see that these days, most clinicians would be reluctant to label a possible Autism case as MR. If there is any doubt, Autism-alone is the new default. What would a diagnosis of Autism plus MR gain you? The only practical reason to add MR would be to explain denial of support.

    • Mitch Buchanan Rocks! says:

      There must be some connection between this and the EMF’s that the kids are exposed to in these modern times – they are exposed to so much dirty energy – it is like we are living in a microwave nowadays. The bees and butterflies are affected too – I long for the cellphone free world that we used to have.

      • Esmom says:

        I can’t disagree. I’ve heard many theories over the years but one that stuck with me as highly plausible is that we’re the first generation to have been raised on processed food, perhaps resulting in some sort of mutation affecting our kids. One thing I do NOT believe, vaccines are not behind it.

    • ol cranky says:

      Hannah is older than I am and back then I don’t think they spoke of Autism spectrum or even considered Aspberger’s. Do those of you who have done a lot of research on Autism have any info that would indicate that anyone who was not severely affected by Autism would have been given that diagnosis?

      Sorry but, sometimes, I find the stories from celebrities having been affected by or diagnosed as X to seem less than genuine (especially when you consider the evolution of the diagnosis/diagnostic criteria and how long ago she was a child)

    • Bridget says:

      Can you cite where you found the statistic 1 in 8? The most recemt I’ve seen is *I think* 1 in 76.

  4. Christin says:

    This might explain how reserved she seemed. Oh, and the John Jr. days! Looking back, maybe he should have ignored his mother.

    • Virgilia Coriolanus says:

      I saw a few interviews with John jr….Good God was he good looking! He turned out better looking than his dad or uncle. I’m sad that he was one of the people the paparazzi went after, though. I mean, the guy was a lawyer–it’s not like he chose a job where he would be in the public eye. I feel bad the way he and his wife died. How is it all the other crazy and law breaking Kennedy’s get away with everything (I’m looking at you Ted!!), but the “good” one dies in a freaking plane crash.

      I think his wife was very pretty, though. She’s the one that GOOP tried to copy right?

      • Christin says:

        He was incredibly handsome and seemed grounded. I suppose Goop does attempt to pull off the minimalist look. I wasn’t all that keen on Carolyn. She seemed a bit unhinged at times. He seemed happier hanging around Daryl, but who really knows.

      • Virgilia Coriolanus says:

        I don’t know much about her–just saw a few pictures and a few pap videos and that she was in fashion???

        Honestly, with the ish that the present day Kennedy’s get into, you couldn’t pay me to marry into their family. If I did, we’d move FAAAAAR away, and only visit on holidays–they might have to come to us.

        I still can’t believe Taylor Swift tried to get in on that. Even a few people at school, who I know don’t read gossip noticed it–it was that bad.

      • gg says:

        I’ve read a lot about Carolyn – she was reportedly a nervous, bitchy nutbag, and was the reason they were flying unlicensed in the dark in the first place (he was not licensed to fly at night, and she just HAD to get her nails done despite being told to go hours before).

      • Esmom says:

        I thought she was beautiful and she definitely set some major fashion trends with some of her looks but from what I’ve read she was a handful. Even her look, which looked so effortless and natural, was extremely high maintenance. I think “high maintenance” was an all-aronund good descriptor for her.

      • gg says:

        Yes, I thought she was absolutely gorgeous. Their wedding photos brought a tear to my eye. I followed their story for years and then after they died read many inside accounts of the real story. Was sorry to read she was so difficult to deal with. :( Pretty on the outside doesn’t always mean nice on the inside.

      • Virgilia Coriolanus says:

        @gg
        That sucks, especially since he seems like he was a really nice guy. I saw this one video, where he came out ahead of her and asked the paparazzi to be nice, because she was coming out behind him. Sad to know that she was bitchy–but she was from a really rich family too, right? I guess that makes sense.

      • holly hobby says:

        JFK Jr. was handsome! He got the Bouvier genes for sure. I too am sad that he died so early when all the other Kennedy hobos managed to outlive him (most of RFK’s children behaved atrociously).

        I used to see JFK Jr’s pictures in magazines and just sighed. Movie star handsome!

      • Christin says:

        It has to be hard having photographers on your doorstep, but she (Carolyn) often seemed so grumpy. They seemed to have such highs and lows, even before they wed. I remember the park argument photos (I think his poor dog was a point of contention). From the time of the plane crash, I have wondered if an argument occurred that evening.

      • Bridget says:

        Of course he was nice, he was pretty much raised with the goal of public office. High profile and good looking as he was, all he basically had to do was become a lawyer and not be a dick.

  5. hiddlesgirl85 says:

    The correct phrasing is “person with Autism.” That is person-first language, which seeks “to avoid perceived and subconscious dehumanization when discussing people with disabilities”(Wikipedia).

    Phrases like “Autistic child/person/individual” are dehumanizing and makes it seem like the disability defines the individuals’ very existence. Having a younger sibling with Autism, I cringe whenever I hear the incorrect phrasing used to describe him.

    Not many people are aware of person-first speech. However, there is a growing number who are aware and spread that knowledge (as I am doing). I remember several years ago, during Autism Awareness Month in April, Oprah had an episode dedicated to understanding Autism. The entire episode Oprah kept saying “Autistic children/people.” She spent most of her show speaking with Jenny McCartney, who never seemed unnerved by that phrasing. (I knew then that Jenny was a phony, who didn’t do her due diligence in researching Autism and how to care for her son.)

    But, as soon as my girl Holly Robinson Peete got on that couch, she immediately corrected Oprah. Holly, by the way, has a son with Autism and is very knowledgeable about the spectrum disorder. She has a foundation that she established with her husband raising money and awareness about the disorder. When she was a host on the Talk, she hosted a weekly series promoting Autism Awareness. I will always love her for all the work she does; she is amazing.

    • Lucrezia says:

      I understand what you’re saying, but I think you’re being too black and white here. The person-first approach isn’t universal. There are those who actually prefer to be called autistic. I really don’t like the implication that parents who are fine with “autistic” are automatically phony! Did you mean to imply that? (I do agree Jenny is pathetic, I just have other reasons.)

      Basic politeness says you should refer to people in the manner they prefer, and if I knew a specific person preferred “person with autism”, I’d certainly use it. But you can’t say it’s the only acceptable usage.

      A message I could agree with you on: Treat people with respect and use their preferred label.

    • islandwalker says:

      Wow- talk about close- minded.

      • hiddlesgirl85 says:

        You misunderstood my comments about Jenny McCartney. I write in a very technical and cut-and-dry manner, so I apologize that my tone came off brusque. Back to Ms. McCartney, if you ever get an opportunity to view the Oprah interview, you’d understand my frustration and judgment of her as a phony. I mean that “overall” she seemed uniformed and judgmental about the condition. Her whole “curing her son of Autism” discussion was revolting and disrespectful. It shamed other families into feeling that the disorder was some sort of aberration. That is why I called her a phony.

        Lucrezia and others, I respect that you are ware about the person-first approach. My issue is that many caregivers are not aware. I believe that when interacting with anyone different (as you stated Lucrezia), it is first important to understand the different ways to communicate with them and speak about them is all.

        Again, I write in a very technical and cut-and-dry manner, so I apologize that my tone came off brusque. I understand that this is a sensitive topic (I should know, my brother is in his mid-twenties, so my family and I had to struggle and deal with the pain of dealing with the disorder during a period when nobody knew what Autism was. It also didn’t help that my parent were immigrants, so were judged even more), so I was not trying to shame anyone who uses the term “Autistic” in their phrasing.

        Additionally, this opinion stems from my previous experiences (our experiences frame who we become), I worked in a home for a while and it was frowned upon to refer to residents in that manner, so I’ve carried that with me. If you look at signs at bus stops and government facilities, they’ve adopted the person-first approach as well. Just my two cents.

      • Lucrezia says:

        LOL, oh hiddlesgirl! I’m not laughing at you, but that was a lovely (unintentional) demonstration of Aspie-style communication problems. Just so perfectly apt that you have to laugh at the situation, if that makes sense?

        I’m glad I double-checked whether you meant to shame everyone who used “autistic”. Since you didn’t, we’re all cool.

        I agree that what you think is the correct label depends on what you’ve learnt. Also, the sensitivity to “bad” labels is probably at least partly cultural. I’m assuming you’re American? I think the US has more intense feelings about labels; the history with the n-word bleeds over onto everything else. (That’s a sweeping generalisation, so it’s not going to apply to everyone, I just think it’s a trend of the overall culture.) I’m Australian: we’re a lot less PC. Being too cautiously polite here comes off as cold/distant. Almost offensive, like you’re assuming the person is overly sensitive and has to be treated with kid gloves. I haven’t noticed a big swing towards person-first terminology here. I’ve at least heard of it, but it’s quite rare.

        On a total tangent: why on Earth are the bus-stops wherever you are mentioning autism anyway?

      • hiddlesgirl85 says:

        Haha! The situation is funny actually, given the topic we are discussing. I appreciated that you were trying to have me clarify my statements before attacking me. That was very considerate of you! It allowed me the opportunity to feel heard and understood, and we were able to have a fun conversation in the end. So thank you.

        Yea, where I live in the US, the signs just say “persons with disabilities.” They changed them several years ago as they used to read “disabled people/persons.” I remember just sitting on the bus reading the sign one day, jumping for joy (in my head of course) about the change.

        I get what you are saying about the cultural differences. Like for my parents (who are immigrants), initially when I began correcting them, it was so weird for them to understand what the problem was with what they said. Their stance used to be “stop being so sensitive.” Now, after being in the states for so long, they will correct their foreign friends.

        On another note, it is fascinating how the rumor about Spielberg hasn’t died. I wonder why it is so persistent.

    • gg says:

      I wanna move to Australia now … ;)

  6. Lucrezia says:

    Spielberg doesn’t have Asperger’s. His rep has repeatedly denied the rumour. Reps can (and do) lie, but it’s not like Spielberg has any obvious symptoms. I’ve never heard anything that’d make me suspect he was on the autism spectrum. What makes people assume this rumour is true?

    • Nicolette says:

      Maybe people don’t realize it. Many have no clue my son is an Asperger’s kid unless it’s mentioned to them.

    • Lucrezia says:

      I didn’t express that clearly. I’m not saying Asperger’s is really obvious (though I have a psych degree so I can usually pick it up, given a certain amount of exposure). I’m saying the default assumption should be “doesn’t have it” rather than “okay, I’ll believe the rumour that has no evidence”. (Especially since he actively denied it.)

      Basically, I’m trying to understand why this rumour didn’t die with the denial.

      • Nicolette says:

        You’re right, with a certain amount of exposure it is noticeable. If you spent extended time with my son, and he became excited by something he loves (mostly anything tech) the stimming would be very apparent. But for others who are not around him for long periods, they have no clue. When it comes to celebs however it’s harder to tell, I mean we’re not spending time with these people after all.

      • Lucrezia says:

        Oh absolutely. I haven’t met Spielberg, let alone spent time with him. But I was actually thinking more along the lines of how he’s described by people who’ve worked with him. I don’t recall seeing even the slightest hint of problems with social interaction.

        Now that I think about it, “no symptoms” was the wrong phrasing. I meant something more like “no hints”.

        Compare to Daryl … I had no clue she had Asperger’s (I’m definitely not trying to imply I’d already figured it out), but at the same time it doesn’t surprise me in the slightest. There were just enough hints that you can go “yeah, that sounds plausible”. I’m simply not seeing that with Spielberg.

        (On the other hand, it is entirely possible I just haven’t read the right interviews.)

    • HappyMom says:

      I’d always heard Bill Gates is an aspie (which is pretty apparent, as the mom of 2)-never heard that about Spielberg-and I don’t see any “signs” of it.

  7. Val says:

    When I was in college I worked at our office for students with disabilities and the students with Asperger’s seemed completely normal to me when I interacted with them. The only thing was that they didn’t like to make eye contact but then again neither do I.

  8. shannon says:

    good grief. my son has autism (IS autistic) and I take no offense to the terminology, unless you’re Dennis Leary) Jesus, sounds like you have to have a doctorate just to know how to say someone has autism. anyhoo, I used to think Daryl was beautiful…i do have to wonder though, if she did not/does not like being the center of attention, why did she mess w/her face? Certainly people have noticed that.

    • shannon says:

      and can I say that I LOVE Legal Eagles?! I want to watch it right now.

    • hiddlesgirl85 says:

      You misunderstood my comments about Jenny McCartney. I write in a very technical and cut-and-dry manner, so I apologize that my tone came off brusque. Back to Ms. McCartney, if you ever get an opportunity to view the Oprah interview, you’d understand my frustration and judgment of her as a phony. I mean that “overall” she seemed uniformed and judgmental about the condition. Her whole “curing her son of Autism” discussion was revolting and disrespectful. It shamed other families into feeling that the disorder was some sort of aberration. That is why I called her a phony.

      Lucrezia and others, I respect that you are ware about the person-first approach. My issue is that many caregivers are not aware. I believe that when interacting with anyone different (as you stated Lucrezia), it is first important to understand the different ways to communicate with them and speak about them is all.

      For a topic this sensitive, we should not be actively attacking others for their opinions. It kills the community spirit, and scares potential commenters from adding their opinions for fear of being attacked. Some would argue that I have Asperger’s, so it hurts that my tone was not understood and I was attacked. As an individual with unofficially diagnosed Asperger’s (my teachers in school wanted to have me speak to a professional to get diagnosed, but my parents refused), I was just letting you know how “we” prefer to be referred as, without outing myself. Now I have because this conversation was going in a negative direction.

  9. Amanda_M87 says:

    I’m on the spectrum too. Life isn’t always easy for me, but having successful role models gives me more confidence.

    • hiddlesgirl85 says:

      This is true; it helps with the acceptance process as well. Actor John Turturro has self-diagnosed Asperger’s. He was in Do the Right Thing, Mo’ Better Blues, The Big Lebowski, Summer of Sam, Miracle at St. Anna, Monk (as Monk’s older brother), etc. He is an amazing actor, so when I found this out I was elated to see a successful person with this disorder.

  10. themummy says:

    I have Aspergers. It is NOT a “form of autism.” Please research.

    I am not autistic. I do not have autism.
    I do have Asperger’s which while is situated on the “autism spectrum,” is not autism.

    • hiddlesgirl85 says:

      Hi, themummy. I am not clear, what conversations are you replying to?

    • Lauren says:

      Technically it doesn’t exist anymore and you would be diagnosed with autism.

      • Lee says:

        Just because the DSM has eliminated it from their most recent revision doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. And regardless, it seems pretty insensitive to completely dismiss themummys preferred identification that way, especially without making any effort to inquire as to why they feel that way.

      • Lucrezia says:

        I’m with Lee on this one: that was way harsh, Tai (Lauren)!

        Since I’m leaning pro-revision of the DSM-V I would actually love to hear themummy’s reasons for being so vehement about the distinction between Autism and Asperger’s. He/She’s the one who has to live it.

      • Trashaddict says:

        I have mixed feelings about this because I do think autism is on a spectrum but there is such a wide range. I have seen children and adults whose autism was really severe in terms of how if affected their inability to interact and I tend to think of them as “autistic” (and if you look at the root of the term it makes sense). My son, who was diagnosed with Asperger’s when that term was accepted, has more relational ability and has more function. But he can lose his cool really quickly and shut down. Makes for interesting situations where people don’t know his diagnosis. I am getting better at just telling people about it but now that he is older I have to think about how to help him make sense of how he is different – at a developmental stage for kids when “different” is the worst thing you could be. And it hurts my heart when I see him stressed out by these things. Every new grade in school is a new question about whether he can stay mainstream and whether it’s worth it to try. He made huge progress with DIR therapy, it you have a kid with autism spectrum, this is really worth exploring:
        http://www.autismspeaks.org/what-autism/treatment/floortime
        Anyway, to me he has Asperger’s. Someday I hope to be able to to explain the mechanism of his condition.

  11. Laurinha says:

    This is actually my first time commenting on any website/ article but the topic of autism is very close to home for me. I know everyone has a different experience with autism but I find it interesting hearing about the decision to drop the Aspergers label. My autistic sister is ten years younger than me and was diagnosed when I was 11. This was absolutely earth shattering for my family. It truley was almost like having a family member die. Or maybe that’s insensitive to people who have lost a loved one, I mean no disrespect. But Esp my parents grieved for the child they thought she would be. She is one of the most severely affect autistic children I’ve ever met. She is completely non verbal and 100% in her own autistic world. She is severely mentally handicapped and will never be able to live without be completely looked after. She is 14 but acts like maybe an 18 month old (in some ways, sometimes there are moments when I’m sure she is more aware of the world than I give her credit for) I adore my sister with all of my heart but her disability has created a Huge trauma for me. I just wish she was able to express herself. I wish she could say my name. I wish she could have opportunities in life. She will never drive a car, live on her own, have a wedding, go to high school, parties or sit exams. She will never be able to tell anyone how she feels or her experiences or be able to choose her own path in life. But more than anything, I wish i could take her autism and live it for her. This is why ppl like Jenny McCarthy anger me. Although I don’t no too much medically or about her stance in general I do know that my parents dedicate their entire lives to helping my sister and if there was a cure they would have tried it. They tried many things, therapies, many diets and she is in one of the most respected autistic schools in the country and she has never gotten any better. My experiences are also why I’m not in favour of dropping the Aspergers title. I meet many ppl who have met an Aspergers person and automatically equate my sisters disabilities with that. (I don’t necessarily think either is better off, Im actually thankful that my sister is not higher functioning in ways. This is because I think its worse to have one foot in the world and one out. At least she doesn’t know there is another world apart from hers and doesn’t feel a struggle to fit in. Anyway sorry bout the monologue. As I said I’ve never commented before but anything autism related brings up intense emotions.

    • Lee says:

      Laurinha and Momof1,
      I really appreciate your views here too. I have twin cousins with autism and they are 15 now and while they express themselves somewhat – not in typically formed words I can really grasp, but enough so that their parents and sister can understand generally – they are still more or less non verbal. I think it’s important that autism and asperger’s are discussed like this, and while of course I’m so glad people with asperger’s and those who love them get their stories out there, I think it’s just as important that someone speaks up for those who can’t do it for themselves, like Laurinha’s sister and my cousins.

      There are many people on the autism spectrum who are successful in their professional and personal lives, and that’s great and important! But I worry that those who are at a further end of the spectrum become invisible. So I agree with you about the classifications Laurinha.

      Anyways, this was just a long winded way of saying thank you for sharing. :)

  12. Momof1 says:

    I’ve never been moved to comment here, I just enjoy reading the banter. But I’m so upset and highly offended. It would take a 10 minute Google search for the author to educate herself.

    There is nothing “savant” about Aspberger’s. It’s not fucking Rainman.

    Aspberger’s is not Autism.

    Autism does not make one “shy” (yes, I’m aware that came from Daryl Hannah), it is often accompanied by extreme clinical anxiety and one of the hallmark’s of Autism is difficulty in the complexities and subtleties of social interactions.

    It just would have been nice to see the same effort for education and accuracy given to subjects like Scientology to be given here.

    I have a 5 year old Autist (not a person with Autism) and she is succeeding with Autism, not in spite of Autism. She’s an artist, she’s an animal lover, she’s as girly as they come and yes she is an Autist. Autism shapes how she sees and responds to the world and it teaches those of us in her world to slow down and try to look at things her way. It’s not a disease, it’s not retardation, it’s the way she processes incoming information.

  13. Sarah says:

    Yeah I have heard about this before, that she was diagnosed with Asperger’s? I was very surprised when I first heard that.

  14. Shannon Reilly says:

    Hi ladies and gentleman, I am the mother of a turning 3 autistic daughter. I also know Mr. Spielberg. He is not on the spectrum but he does have OCD issues (similar to Howie Mandel) with cleanliness regarding his hands especially. Just clearing things up. It was so nice hearing I am not alone, some days it gets hard regarding autism, I feel nobody understands, however I would not trade my daughter for the world….Thank you guys! :)

  15. Caz says:

    Thanks for the walk down memory lane Kaiser. Daryl was a great actress and a stunner.

    The only thing I recall her in was a Robbie Williams video “Feel” a few years back.

  16. K says:

    Let’s not forget her role in Roxanne.

  17. taxi says:

    Interesting threads here. An earlier poster mentioned Temple Grandin. An excellent movie, “Temple Grandin” starring Claire Danes, came out a couple of years ago. It was based on Temple’s books about her life & career as a person on the spectrum. It’s fascinating. It went first to HBO but is now on Amazon & Netflix.

    My half-sister is 30 years younger than I & is on the spectrum. Depending on her concentration & inclinations at the time of testing, her IQ scores have ranged from 87-125. Non-typical behaviors became noticeable when she was about 2 years old.

    Yes, John Kennedy Jr was truly gorgeous. It sounds odd, but he had a glow about him, plus personal modesty & an air of humility. He was unfailingly courteous. No photos I’ve seen have done him justice. Caroline? It was clear she didn’t want him to speak or acknowledge anyone but her. High-maintenance doesn’t begin to describe her. She was far less attractive in person than in photos & sulked unless she was the sole object of his attention, even though he was here on business for George magazine. Jr was sweet & affectionate with her & she acted b****y & bored. If Jackie had met Bessette, she might well have preferred Daryl.

    I hope Daryl is happy. She’s bright & talented. Results of her cosmetic surgery appear to have “settled” enough so she more resembles herself (as does Christie Brinkley, who was unrecognizable for the 1st year after her p.s.)

  18. Naddie says:

    I don’t mean to say who’s wrong or right, or decide if Daryl Hannah is autistic or not, but whenever a pathology/syndrome is outspoken by the media, the colateral effects show up. I remember when a lot of celebrities in my country said they got OCD, then suddenly everyone I knew had OCD too, and it makes hard for people who actually have the disease to get the right diagnostic or even be taken seriously.