As autism rates continue to climb, so too are the number of individuals who are diagnosed with ASD at a later stage in life. With expanding diagnostic criteria and better testing mechanisms in place, there is a growing trend of adults being diagnosed well into their twenties and beyond.
Such is the case for actor Sir Anthony Hopkins, who fairly recently, disclosed his diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome to several news and media outlets.
Now in his early 80’s, Hopkins joins a growing number of adults being diagnosed with milder forms of autism after years of exhibiting traits and characteristics that accompany the disorder.
In retrospect, Hopkins has attributed his insecurities and isolation as a youngster to his newly-discovered condition.
“I could never settle anywhere,” he said of his earlier years. “I was troubled and caused trouble.” He also describes himself as a loner, adding, “I don’t go to parties, I don’t have many friends.”
Known as a milder form of autism, Asperger’s syndrome was added to the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) in 1994 as a separate disorder from autism. Then in 2013, the DSM-5 replaced Autistic Disorder, Asperger’s Disorder/syndrome and other pervasive developmental disorders with the umbrella diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder.
As with many with forms of ASD, individuals with Asperger’s often exhibit remarkable rote memory skills and tend to be focused on a few very narrow interests. In Hopkins’ case, these traits have proven to be advantageous as an actor.
He’s well known by his Hollywood counterparts for an extraordinary ability to memorize lines. In fact, during the filming of Steven Spielberg’s 1997 hit Amistad, Hopkins astounded the production crew with his memorization of a seven-page courtroom speech, delivering it in a single take. Spielberg was so amazed, he couldn’t bring himself to call him “Tony” anymore and insisted on addressing him as Sir Anthony throughout the shoot.
Hopkins also has been known to completely immerse himself in the characters he plays. He commented, “I like to deconstruct, to pull a character apart, to work out what makes them tick and my view will not be the same as everyone else.” These skills are clearly exhibited in his iconic role as Dr. Hannibal Lecter in the 1991 hit, Silence of the Lambs, which earned an Academy Award for Best Actor.
Another area Hopkins excels in is as an artist and has taken advantage of the coronavirus lockdown to expand his portfolio of work, which includes abstract paintings, dreamscapes and other various paints, oils and acrylics. His studio is filled to capacity and has been described as exhibiting a sense of “organized chaos.”
As with many other high-profile individuals with autism, Anthony Hopkins is another example of the gifts that autism bestows while at the same time, demonstrating the challenges that can accompany the disorder. However, despite these trials and setbacks, we ultimately discover that the world is a richer place because of the contributions made by individuals on the autism spectrum.
The original article can be found here.
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