Autistic Savants

Autistic savant refers to individuals with autism who have unusual and unique skills not displayed by most people. Savants are people who despite serious mental or physical disability have quite remarkable, and sometimes spectacular, talents. There are many forms of savant abilities. The most common forms involve mathematical calculations, memory feats, artistic abilities, and musical abilities.

Savant syndrome can be congenital or acquired. When congenital, the skill appears early in childhood, and when acquired, abilities appear to spring forth suddenly following stroke, brain injury, or dementia. The reason why some autistic individuals have savant abilities is not known. There are many theories, but there is no evidence to support any of them. There is a theory which indicates that savants have incredible concentration abilities and can focus their complete attention on a specific area of interest. Admittedly, researchers in psychology say that they will never truly understand memory and cognition until they understand the autistic savant.

Let’s get acquainted with several fascinating autistic savants.

  1. Leslie Lemke

Leslie, a blind American autistic, who had never gone to music classes was playing Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 at the age 16. The whole Tchaikovsky piece he was playing perfectly after listening to it just once. Gradually he started to play any style of music of any length without musical education. He was invited to play during different TV shows and in short time he became very popular.

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2.Stephen Wiltshire, the Human Camera

Wiltshire, British architectural artist, has a unique talent to draw a detailed landscape of a city after seeing it for 5 seconds. He drew a 10-meter long picture of Tokyo following 10 minutes helicopter ride. He memorizes all the fragments of cities within seconds and draws exactly the same landscapes. Stephen has his official web page where people can admire all his works of art.(http://www.stephenwiltshire.co.uk/)

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When someone can do a thing that is really amazing,it is wrong to discount their competence in other areas of life. They may need guidance or assistance from friends and other helpers. That does not mean that they are incompetent. It is bad to devalue the rest of their life because they are unable to work or because they need accommodations or assistance. They are humans as we all are. Thus, people should not commodify their unique abilities and dismiss their personhood. Eventually, individuals who possess savant abilities have inherent value and should not be valued solely on whether they are useful or not. They are the best example of innate talent and represent nature in its most admirable form.

 

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