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Diagnosing Jefferson: Evidence of a Condition that Guided His Beliefs, Behavior, and Personal Associations is a book by Norm Ledgin with a commentary by Temple Grandin, as well as Ledgin's first book.[1] The book argues that Thomas Jefferson met five of the thirteen diagnostic criteria for Asperger syndrome according to the diagnostic criteria listed in the DSM-IV (the minimum for a diagnosis is four):

  • Marked impairments in the use of multiple nonverbal behaviors such as eye-to-eye gaze, facial expression, body posture, and gestures to regulate social interaction
  • Lack of social or emotional reciprocity
  • Encompassing preoccupation with one or more stereotyped and restricted patterns of interest that is abnormal either in intensity or focus
  • Apparently inflexible adherence to specific, nonfunctional routines or rituals
  • The disturbance causes clinically significant impairments in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning[2]


Norm Ledgin's son, Fred, was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome in 1996. At that time, there was very little information about Autism available. Ledgin read Temple Grandin's book Thinking in Pictures. In 1998, Ledgin started reading biographies about Thomas Jefferson. While he was reading the biographies, he noticed that Thomas Jefferson and Fred shared a lot of common traits which is what made him decide to write the book.[3]


  • Temple Grandin: "This book is fantastic! Talent and intellectual giftedness is often associated with autism and Asperger's syndrome. there is a continuum from normal to abnormal. A small amount of these traits can provide an advantage in being able to think objectively. Thomas Jefferson used these advantages when helping to create our system of government."
  • Dr. Richard P. McCormick: "This work is important on three levels. Is presents evidence to substantiate the hypothesis that Thomas Jefferson exhibited symptoms of Asperger's Syndrome…To parents, educators, and caregivers who deal with children with Asperger's Syndrome this book offers hope, reliable information and invaluable experience-based guidance."
  • Tony Attwood: "This book is good for the serious student of Asperger's Syndrome. Parents and professionals should encourage the person with Asperger's to read this to recognize the values such individuals have, and have had, to our society. There are genuine heroes with Asperger's."
  • Marsha E. Lytle: "Fascinating…My empathy for Jefferson increased…For parents of children with Asperger's, Mr. Ledgin offers valuable insight on how to deal with the [educational system], and for the children…to boost their self-esteem."
  • Diana Leonard: "Diagnosing Jefferson…was life-changing for us and our adult son…This information will do wonders for our son's self-esteem."[4]