Many if not most great geniuses in history are now thought to have had Asperger syndrome or High-functioning Autism. It all started with Norm Ledgin's book Diagnosing Jefferson, in which the author argues that Jefferson's behaviours matches the five diagnostic criteria for Asperger's: social impairment, preoccupation with "special interests," impairment in non-verbal communication, lack of emotional reciprocity, and inflexible adherence to non-functional routines. Since then many historical figures have been widely recognised as probably having had Asperger, including:

In science, technology & industry

- Isaac Newton
- Charles Darwin
- Thomas Edison
- Nikola Tesla
- Henry Ford
- Carl Jung
- Howard Hughes
- Alan Turing
- Bill Gates
- Mark Zuckerberg

In philosophy

- Friedrich Nietzsche
- Ludwig Wittgenstein
- Bertrand Russell

In the arts

- Michelangelo
- W.A. Mozart
- Ludwig van Beethoven
- Gustav Mahler
- Richard Strauss
- Vincent Van Gogh
- Mark Twain
- Wasily Kandinsky
- Virginia Woolf
- Andy Warhol
- Marilyn Monroe
- Alfred Hitchcock
- Steven Spielberg
- Bob Dylan
- Robin Williams

In politics

- George Washington
- Thomas Jefferson
- Benjamin Franklin
- Abraham Lincoln
- Al Gore

Here is a more extensive list.

A lot of people still don't know what Asperger is, although Hollywood has popularised it a lot over the past decade, notably with series like The Big Bang Theory (Sheldon being the archetypical high-IQ Aspie), Community (Abed) and the brand new Silicon Valley.

Signs of Asperger syndrome include:

  • Deeply interested in very focused interests, which he or she may be very knowledgeable about (and may want to talk about it all the time)
  • Have a formal style of speaking that is advanced for his or her age (as children)
  • Problem socialising
  • Difficulty in communicating. Interpret language literally.
  • Does not pick up on social cues and may lack inborn social skills, such as being able to read others' body language, start or maintain a conversation, and take turns talking
  • Unable to recognize subtle differences in speech tone, pitch, and accent that alter the meaning of others' speech
  • Dislike any changes in routines
  • Appear to lack empathy
  • Have unusual facial expressions or postures
  • Avoid eye contact or stare at others
  • Have heightened sensitivity (notably to noise and light)
  • Delayed motor development and poor/slow handwriting

Other traits can be found here.

Many people only have a few of these traits and may not have Asperger. In fact, most people with Asperger inherited different traits from each of their parents, who would not have been Aspies themselves.

Asperger and autism have been found to be much more prevalent among the children of couples who both work in the high-tech industry or in scientific jobs, notably in the Silicon Valley. This is because autistic traits have a genetic basis and are generally linked to intellectual traits associated with scientific minds and higher intelligence or creativity.

Autistic children were found to have more neurons than non-autistic ones. This is probably what causes the sensory overload, social anxiety, but also the heightened perception, imagination, creativity and intelligence.

Therefore, is it really possible for any exceptionally gifted people (think IQ > 150) not to have any Asperger or autistic traits ? I cannot think of any example right now. Please discuss.

Note that many Aspies have co-occurring disorders like OCD, ADHD and bipolar disorder, although these traits are more linked to emotions than perception, communication or intellect.