^ This. Satoshi Tajiri, the creator of Pokemon has Asperger's syndrome. Many other famous people, including actress Daryl Hannah and singer Courtney Love were diagnosed with it in some form as well. Even Emily Dickinson, one of the most influential American poets is now believed to have some form of spectrum disorder. A common trend among autism disorders is great creativity, which many people can put to their advantage. I have a handful of friends who are autistic, and in all honesty each and every one of them is brilliant in some way.
Sadly the media tends to emphasize only the most extreme cases. And while it's true that there are people with autism who cannot speak, or even walk, this represents only a small section of a vast spectrum. This ignorance has unfortunately led to an awful stereotype of autism which just isn't true. There are also several disorders that are not considered to be autism, which can produce similar symptoms, that non-medical culture will label as otherwise. Autism tends to be poorly understood by the masses, and even scientifically there is much we are learning. There is no single cause the can be pinpointed for the condition, but there are very likely several biological and environmental factors involved. Hopefully in the future both the scientific community and the public at large can have a better understanding of autism, showing how people with the condition do not allow themselves to be overcome by it.
Autism may be a condition, but in no way does it define who a person is.