Savantism is a neurological condition caused by autism – with a twist. “Savants” used to be called “Idiot-Savants” because in the past those born with this disorder were committed to mental institutions for their atypical social behavior. Over the years, acting “abnormal” became less taboo, and it became clear that these unusual individuals made up for their social deficiencies by excelling in a particular field, whether it was art, math, or music. Here is a list of exceptional people whose unique abilities border on the paranormal…
10. Henriette Seth-F
Hungarian-born Henriett is particularly unique given the 16 percent minority of female scholars. After his birth in 1980, he was soon diagnosed with a neurological disorder after symptoms such as inability to make eye contact, general isolation and chronic “echolalia”. However, he was playing the flute at the age of seven and painting at the age of 13. This prolific writer has also won the Geza Gardonyi Prize for Arts at the XII International Literary Competition and has published several books and articles, including Autism: Another World.
9. Thristan Mendoza
He was born in Quezon City in 1989 and was diagnosed with autism at the age of two and a half. Shortly after this diagnosis, he became known as a Savant for his excellent marimba performances. Despite her social anxiety and fear of bright lights and loud noises, she is currently studying percussion in college. It is superior to mathematics.
8. Tony DeBlois
In 1975, American Tony DeBlois was not only born with autism, but also blind. His lack of sight resulted in a marked elevation of another sense – hearing. Tony was playing the piano at the age of two and has over 20 instruments in his repertoire, with jazz being his preferred genre. He graduated from Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts in 1996 and currently performs solo concerts around the world with the band Goodnuf.
7. Jerry and Mary Newport
They have written several successful books, including Autism-Asperger’s & Sexuality and Mozart and The Whale – An Asberger’s Love Story, which was adapted into a film with Josh Hartnett and Radha Mitchell. Jerry is a math savant, an obsession that sometimes overtakes him, and Mary’s genius is in art and piano.
6. Matt Savage
Perhaps the youngest of the group, American Matt is a musicologist. Precocious and hyperactive, Matt had difficulty understanding and relating to people, leading to his diagnosis of autism at the age of three. Now, at 16, her exceptional jazz piano talents have seen her tour the world and team up with “neurotypical” greats such as Al Stewart and Chaka Khan. He is a respected composer who loves witty, technical style performances.
5. James Henry Pullen
Poor James, aka the genius of Earlswood Asylum, was born during an inauspicious time for Savants. Born in Dalston, London in 1835, he was quickly dismissed as deaf, dumb and mentally retarded. James remained in institutions his entire life, where he experienced crippling mood swings from depression to blind rage. After a craft session at Earlswood Asylum, her true talents were revealed. He spent day and night designing cabinets, figurines, and other woodworking items, then carved them using whatever means he could. Some of his masterpieces are still on display in England.
4. Alonzo Clemons
Rather than being born neurologically different, Alonzo, of Boulder, Colorado, suffered a traumatic brain injury in childhood. This event left him stunted, with a low IQ of 40-50. However, from memory, Alonzo sculpts anatomically perfect animal figurines from clay. He spent most of his life in an institution where he was banned from sculpting, which they assumed prevented him from pursuing alternative studies. Alonzo soon found ways to do this – by removing the sealants around the windows. His figurines have sold for up to $45,000.
3. Stephen Wiltshire
Born in London, Stephen was subjected to many trials and observations. Silent and diagnosed with autism, he amazed those around him when he drew complex scenes from memory at the age of five. Stephen has been helicoptered around the world by those seeking to grasp the full extent of architectural savantism. It consistently reproduces highly complex scenes such as ancient Rome, downtown London, and the New York skyline. This resulted in a series of Sunday Times Bestsellers such as Pictures (1987), Cities (1989), Floating Cities (1991), and Stephen Wiltshire’s American Dream (1993). “Stephen Wiltshire Catalog 2008”. Stephen is now able to communicate verbally at a basic level.
2. Daniel Tammet
High-functioning autistic Daniel Tammet owes severe childhood epilepsy to his savantism. Born in London, Daniel experiences synesthesia, the vivid representation of letters and numbers, and is a master of numbers and languages.
1. Kim Peake
“Put him in an institution and forget about him,” the doctor told Kim Pik’s father. However, refusing to do so allowed the world to see the amazing feats of a man who would otherwise have been condemned. Missing part of his brain, Kim has physical and social disabilities, but is a non-autistic Savant with incredible memory skills. He has been reading and memorizing books since he was 16 months old and today remembers 98.7 percent of what he reads – whether it’s history, sports, geography, music or even the phone book. Kim is known as the inspiration behind the epic movie Rainman. Kim is now 56 years old and has made significant improvements in her social skills.