Growing up, I didn’t have role models who were on the autism spectrum. Being diagnosed with autism in the early 90’s the only one that was mentioned on a national level was the fictional character ‘Rain Man.’ Because of this, I often today share about some people that those with autism can look up too who are adults on the spectrum.

When I start listing off names I mention leading autism advocate Dr. Temple Grandin, the first nonverbal talk show host Carly Fleischmann, New York Times Best-Selling author John Elder Robison, international speaker and author Stephen M. Shore and American Idol finalist James Durbin. After that I end my list with a name no one expects…

Dan Aykroyd.

People are literally shocked to learn that he’s on the autism spectrum.

Aykroyd who is most well known for his stint on Saturday Night Live came out about having Asperger’s Syndrome several years ago. In an interview with Daily Mail he mentions that, due to his autism diagnosis he was able to have some key interests. One of those key interests was in ghosts and law enforcement. Specifically, he loved the ghost hunter Hans Holzer. Because of his interests in this area he shared with Daily Mail that this is when ‘the idea of my film Ghostbusters was born.’ Ghostbusters is arguably today one of the biggest cult-movie classics ever. Aykroyd’s name came up more in our community recently because of the remake of Ghostbusters that came out in early 2016.

That for me has some amazing value for our community. Often families wonder what the future will look like for their child on the spectrum and when that time comes I love to bring up Aykroyd’s story. So many people on the spectrum have key interests just like Aykroyd. With the proper direction in that interest it can open up opportunities for them.

Now not every person with autism is going to have Aykroyd’s success but with his story, we have someone our community others can look up too. I have turned one of my key interests in theatre as a child to a career as an adult in in motivational speaking.

One of my old college professors often told me to “think with the end in mind” which has reinforced my passion for sharing stories like Aykroyd’s. No matter where your child falls on our wide autism spectrum, have the self-motivation to know that we are learning more about autism everyday. Every milestone, no matter how small should be celebrated. Hopefully one day we will be able to share about all of our kids being able to live their dreams like Aykroyd has.

Want to learn more about some successful people on the spectrum? Check out our list of 10 Inspirational People with Autism here.