10 Inspiring People With Autism Who’ve Accomplished Amazing Things

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Adriana Velez | Aug 15, 2012 Being a Mom

james holbeyParents of kids with autism know daily life can be a major challenge -- but in between the struggles, there are moments when your kids do and say the most incredible things. These special children can be so inspiring.

We found 10 people on the autism spectrum who have accomplished some impressive feats to spotlight. But really, we could have just gone on and on with a list of hundreds! The world is rich with astonishingly gifted people with autism.

  • Stephen Wiltshire: Artist

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    Bex.Walton/Flickr

    British artist Stephen Wilshire can make incredibly detailed drawings of cityscapes. Most recently he drew out the Manhattan skyline from memory.  

  • Temple Grandin: Innovator/Inventor, Advocate

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    Temple Grandin grew up around animals and was able to think like they do. She revolutionized how cattle are slaughtered and made the process much more humane. HBO produced a bio pic based on Temple's life starring Claire Danes.

  • Devin Ross: Swimmer

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    Devin Ross' mom was told he'd never live on his own, or go to college. They said he might have to be institutionalized. And yet, Devin made it to Olympic trials in swimming this year.

  • Daniel Tammet: Author

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    NicoCanali/Flickr

    Daniel Tammet is an author whose memoir, Born on a Blue Day, became a bestseller. He can recite Pi up to 22,514 digits, taught himself Icelandic in a week on a dare, and is the subject of the documentary, The Boy With the Incredible Brain.

  • Jason McElwain: Basketball Player

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    chilihead/Flickr

    Jason McElwain started out as a bench-warmer for his high school basketball team. But he rose to fame when his coach rotated him in at the end of a game and McElwain scored 20 points in four minutes. See coverage of the game and the Gatorade commercial he later starred in.

  • Matt Savage: Jazz Pianist

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    Matt Savage is a piano prodigy who played with Dave Brubeck the age of 8. He has performed all over the world and records music with the Matt Savage Trio.

  • Alexis Wineman: Miss Montana

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    Image via Robynlou8/Flickr

    Pageant queen Alexis Wineman rode to the title of Miss Montana this year on this brilliant platform: "Normal Is Just a Dryer Setting: Living With Autism." Alexis wants to show how having autism is just part of life's adventure. 

  • James Hobley: Dancer

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    James Hobley couldn't read or write at the age of 8 when he discovered dancing. It changed his life. Not only did he learn to read and write, he competed his way to become a finalist in 2011's Britain's Got Talent. He has won numerous other contests and awards.

  • Dawn Prince-Hughes: Scientist

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    Dawn Prince-Hughes is a primatologist and ethnologist who says working with gorillas helped her overcome her feelings of isolation. She has written a series of memoirs based on her work and has served as executive director of the Institute for Cognitive Archaeological Research.

  • Donna Williams: Author

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    Donna Williams is a bestselling author and poet. Her work has helped the rest of the world to understand how people on the autism spectrum think and experience the world.

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