Does Steven Spielberg Have Asperger’s?

These days, more and more celebrities are being open and honest about their personal lives as a way to spread awareness and increase acceptance. From sharing about their experiences with dyslexia to opening up about treatment for anxiety and depression to sharing cancer diagnoses and recoveries, many stars have chosen to give up some of their own privacy in order to make the world a little more understanding. 

Recently, Elon Musk publicly announced that he has Asperger’s. This revelation has increased awareness of the condition and made many wonder what other stars can say the same. Is Steven Spielberg among them?

Steven Spielberg smiling in front of a blue background
Steven Spielberg | Alberto Pizzoli/Getty Images

What is Asperger’s?

While Musk and others have used the term “Asperger’s” to refer to their neurodiversity, the term is actually falling out of favor in the medical community and within the autistic community as well. As Very Well Health explains, Asperger’s was retired from the official diagnostics manual back in 2013.

Instead, clinicians now include Asperger’s as part of the broad spectrum of autism diagnoses. Autism diagnoses are now given across three levels based on the level of support the individual receiving the diagnosis needs due to their cognitive development. 

Many of the people previously diagnosed as having Asperger’s would now be diagnosed with level one autism, meaning that these individuals have differences — typically in communication and social interactions — that may benefit from minimal support. 

Pop culture awareness of autism 

Awareness and understanding of autism has grown by leaps and bounds in recent years, and pop culture has been one place where people learn more about the diagnosis and appreciating neurodiversity. When Sesame Street introduced an autistic character — a muppet named Julia — many applauded the increased visibility. 

Not all pop culture portrayals of autism have been lauded, however. The Netflix series Love on the Spectrum is a reality show that ostensibly provides a platform for autistic individuals to speak about their relationship experiences in their own words, but many have called it out for being patronizing to the very people it purports to serve.

Meanwhile, fictional representations of autism like those seen in The Big Bang Theory left many viewers feeling dissatisfied with a shallow portrayal often played up for laughs. It’s safe to say that many in the autistic community and among their allies see the need for ongoing and more robust representation of autism in pop culture. 

Does Steven Spielberg have Asperger’s?

One way to get a more robust and complex picture of autism spectrum disorder is through seeing real-life representations rather than fictional ones. That’s why Elon Musk’s announcement made such waves across the pop culture world. However, Musk is far from the only autistic star to be in the spotlight.

Since the diagnosis of autism has gotten so much more nuanced, many adults have likely gone without a diagnosis for most of their lives. As Men’s Health reports, that likely includes celebrities like Tim Burton and Robbie Williams who recognize and resonate with the condition. It also includes people like Susan Boyle, Darryl Hannah, and Hannah Gadsby — all of whom have received formal diagnoses. 

Others, however, have had assumptions about their neurology read onto them, and that’s what happened to Steven Spielberg. Speaking with NPR about her book The Best Kind of Different: Our Family’s Journey with Asperger’s Syndrome, Shonda Schilling caused a bit of a stir. In the interview, Schilling — who is the wife of Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling and the mother of a child diagnosed with Asperger’s — casually made the statement that Steven Spielberg has Asperger’s.

She was trying to prove that the condition was more widespread than people might believe, but she, unfortunately, erred in her statement. As Indie Wire reports, Spielberg’s representatives shut down the speculation by stating there was “no truth” to the claim. “It’s that simple.” 

RELATED: ‘Bones’: Did Emily Deschanel’s Dr. Brennan Have Asperger’s Syndrome?