Do you know what Pokemon and famous people with Aspergers have in common?
I never thought I would learn so much about Pokémon as I have in the last few years. Everyone’s talking to me about Pokémon Diamond, Pokémon Pearl, and now, Pokémon Go!
I conducted a search about famous people with Aspegers and autism and found a list at the website called Child Autism Parent Cafe. Then I went to Wikipedia and found a list of famous people on the autism spectrum.
There has been some backlash about talking about “famous” people on the autism spectrum.
But I believe we can draw inspiration and life lessons from these people.
Lets’ learn about what Pokémon has to do with famous people with Aspergers. Satoshi Tajiri, the creator of Pokémon, is an individual with Aspergers!
Famous People With Aspergers: Satoshi Tajiri
Satoshi was born in rural Japan. Like other people on the autism spectrum, Satoshi had an early special interest. He loved to collect bugs. In fact, other kids started calling him “Dr. Bug.” He expressed an interest in becoming an entomologist.
As rural Japan became urbanized, he desired to give other people the joy he experienced in catching and studying bugs.
This was, in part, his passion behind creating the Pokémon collection of characters.
As a teenager, Satoshi discovered the world of arcade games. He spent so much at the arcade, even cutting classes, that his parents thought of him as delinquent!
As a talented person on the autism spectrum, he developed a new special interest, and began to think about creating his own video games.
To his parents’ dismay, Tajiri almost failed high school. He often cut his high school classes because of his fascination with video games. His father tried to get him a job a local Toyota Electric Company, but Tajiri turned the job down. He managed to graduate by taking make up classes for his high school diploma. And he never did go to college.
Forging His Own Path
Tajiri chose the road less travelled when it came to school.
He enrolled at Toyko National College of Technology, where he studied electronics.
While there, he started a magazine about developments and trends in the gaming industry.
Another gaming enthusiast named Ken Sugimori joined the magazine as an illustrator. He actually drew many if not most of the original Pokémon characters.
Like many people on the autism spectrum, Tajiri had an eye for detail and a drive for perfection. He became interested in Nintendo and Game Boy when they first came out. He studied the programming language of Nintendo to better understand gaming systems.
It was Tajiri who conceptualized using link cables to connect hand-held Game Boy systems. He wanted players to play together instead of against each other.
Tajiri has continued to follow his passion, designing new games and continuously improving his current games. He has been known to work 24 hours at a time!
Lessons I Learned from Tajiri
Each Individual Is Unique
As parents, teachers, and therapists, we must respect the individual gifts and talents of each person on the autism spectrum.
Just because s/he’s career or schooling interests may not t “fit the mold” of what we think is best, doesn’t mean s/he won’t find his own best career or school path.
On the one hand, every child needs structure, discipline, and challenge.
On the other hand, each child needs to be studied and allowed to blossom according to his/her temperament, gifts, and talents.
Temple Grandin received lots of parental structure and support. She speaks about how strict her parents were with her in terms of teaching her manners and respect.
On the other hand, her parents also exposed her to a myriad of opportunities and experiences, letting her choose her own particular path in the end.
In the same way, I’m sure Tajiri’s parents were somewhat distressed as he cut classes, hung out at video game arcades, and turned down a ‘good job’ at the electric company. Yet in the end he made his way to become one of the top 100 gaming entrepreneurs/inventors of all time.
Autism Spectrum Strengths Can Pay Off With Careers
One can never generalize to an entire group from a single person, but there were some autism characteristics that made Tajiri successful as an inventor and entrepreneur.
He had an intense specialized interest in video games. This intense interest drove him to work long, hard hours in pursuit of ever better games.
He had an eye for details. Because he was so steeped in the culture and language of video games, he saw new possibilities to provide ever better products to video gaming teens.
In conclusion, I hope you enjoyed reading this portrait of a famous person with Aspergers.
Tajiri Satoshi helped me to appreciate some of the positive strengths of the autism spectrum; some of the career directions for people with Aspergers and autism; and how to be better friend parent, teacher, and therapist to autistic and Aspergian people in my life.
What have you learned from famous people with autism/Aspergers?
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