Encouraging And Utilising Savant Skills
As fascinating as savant skills are, we need more research to help those with savant syndrome to nurture such talents. Maybe the above example of Nadia Chomyn shows that savant skills should not be neglected in favor of social and communication skills, but rather, savant abilities should be encouraged and shaped to help the individual contribute to society in a way which makes them feel needed and valued.
Savantism and autism are both conditions where extraordinary skills are found along with challenging symptoms that may cause difficulties in everyday life. For neurodivergent minds to thrive, we need research to provide concrete ways to nurture strengths rather than exclusively trying to fix so-called deficits. Because, if there is one thing that savantism proves, it is that impairments are sometimes the gateway to genius.
Daniel, E., Menashe, I. Exploring the familial role of social responsiveness differences between savant and non-savant children with autism. Sci Rep 10, 2255 . https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-59209-7
Grandin T. An Inside View of Autism. In: Schopler E., Mesibov G.B. High-Functioning Individuals with Autism. Current Issues in Autism. Springer, Boston, MA.
Happé, F., & Frith, U. . The weak coherence account: detail-focused cognitive style in autism spectrum disorders. Journal of autism and developmental disorders, 36, 525. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-005-0039-0
What Is An Autistic Savant
An autistic savant is someone with autism who also has a single extraordinary area of knowledge or ability. According to Treffert, “As many as one in ten persons with autistic disorder have such remarkable abilities in varying degrees, although savant syndrome occurs in other developmental disabilities or in other types of central nervous system injury or disease as well. Whatever the particular savant skill, it is always linked to massive memory.
Its important to note that savants and talented autistic people are not the same thing. There are many autistic people with ordinary talentsbut savant syndrome is rare and extreme. In other words, a person with autism who is able to calculate well, play an instrument, or otherwise present himself as highly capable is not by definition a savant.
Examples Of Autistic Savant In A Sentence
autistic savant Timeautistic savantNew York Timesautistic savant cleveland.comautistic savantsandiegouniontribune.comautistic savantSmithsonian
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word ‘autistic savant.’ Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
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Experiment : Learning The Novel Savant Skill Of Calendar Calculation
The purpose of experiment 2 was to explore whether participants could be trained to perform a characteristic savant skillcalendar calculationand to investigate whether autistic-savants would show differences in accuracy or learning-style compared to autistic-nonsavants. As before, controls without autism or savant skills were included to separate effects linked to autism from effects linked to savant syndrome. Participants learned a number of different calendar rules throughout a training session and were given a final test that tapped all the rules. For example, the matching month rule states that within any non-leap year, certain months have matching structures . Savants who have calendar calculating within their repertoire are already sensitive to these rules . For instance, they are faster at saying that 1 November is Sunday if it has been primed by a preceding question about 1 March than if preceded by 1 September . As well as examining the overall ability to learn the task, we can use this pattern of response times as a measure of the degree to which the rules have been internalised and are utilised by all subjects, and furthermore, whether savants perform differently in either accuracy or speed.
Diagnosing An Autistic Savant
Savants are often high-functioning. They can therefore fly under the radar and possibly never get an accurate autism diagnosis. Not all savants are autistic many are neurotypical.
There is no specific test or diagnostic criteria for an autistic savant, but there are several things that can be done to pinpoint savant syndrome. An autistic savant will be highly skilled in one area and also struggle with developmental disability of some form. Testing criteria for autism can help to diagnose the neurodevelopmental disorder first.
Autism can be diagnosed in a child by 18 months to 2 years old. At 18 to 24 months, children should be screened for autism through a developmental screening. If there are any risk factors or signs of autism, a more comprehensive developmental evaluation is conducted by a team of medical and mental health professionals to render a diagnosis.
If a child possesses extreme talent in a certain area, savant syndrome may be present.
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Medical Definition Of Autistic Savant
- Medical Editor: Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD
Reviewed on 3/29/2021
Autistic savant: A person with autism who is exceptionally gifted in a specialized field. That field may, for example, be mathematics. The autistic savant may be able to do rapid, complex mental calculations. Or the field may be music. The autistic savant may be able to perform a entire piece of music after hearing it only once.
The term “autistic savant” has replaced the old term “idiot savant,” which is perjorative and imprecise. A savant is a sage, a learned person.
The Relationship Between Savantism And Autism Helps Us Understand Both Disorders Better
The fact that many savants are not autistic helps us understand more about autism itself, however. Not all savants are born with their capabilities some only acquire them after suffering brain injuries. This has allowed scientists to determine, with some degree of precision, the part of the brain responsible for the extraordinary capacities: damage to the left anterior temporal lobe has been shown to cause the condition. Experimental efforts have used transcranial magnetic stimulation to temporarily disable that part of the brain, resulting in temporary savant-like skills in tests.
Just as males outnumber females in autism diagnoses, they far outnumber them in cases of savantism too. Only about one out of every six savants are female. Some preliminary studies indicate that this difference may be due to late-stage developmental impairment in the left hemisphere by extra testosterone exposure in a male fetus. That finding may also have bearing on why autism is more common among boys. Though many questions persist, this offers one more clue to the course and causes of the disorder.
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Gottfried Mind: Cat’s Raphael
Gottfried Mind’s cats
Gottfried Mind was one of the earliest savants in history. In 1776, the eight-year-old Gottfried was placed in an art academy, where his teachers noted that he was “very weak, incapable of hard work, full of talent for drawing, a strange creature, full of artist-caprices, along with a certain roguishness.”
One day, Gottfried’s mentor, a painter named Sigmund Hendenberger, was drawing a cat when Gottfried exclaimed “That is no cat!” The teacher asked whether he could do better and sent the child to a corner to draw. The cat that Gottfried drew was so lifelike that since then he became known as the Cat’s Raphael:
In the course of his narrow, indoors life, he had worked himself into an almost paternal relation with domestic animals, especially with cats. While he sat painting, a cat might generally be seen sitting on his back or on his shoulder many times he kept, for hours, the most awkward postures, that he might not disturb it. Frequently there was a second cat sitting by him on the table, watching how the work went on sometimes a kitten or two lay in his lap under the table. Frogs floated beside his easel and with all these creatures he kept up a most playful, loving style of conversation though, often enough, any human beings about him, or such even as came to see him, were growled or grunted at in no social fashion.
Types Of Autistic Savants
While an autistic savant will have extraordinary abilities in one specific area or field of interest, this is often a splinter skill and may not actually serve them in daily life. Being able to recall every number in a phone directory is not a readily usable skill, for example.
Despite extreme skill in this area, an autistic savant often suffers in other areas that relate to daily life. Autism can lead to significant difficulties with communication and social skills as well as behavioral issues.
Typical savant skills are in the following areas:
- Math: A savant may be a prodigy in mathematics and have the ability to calculate extremely complex problems without pencil and paper.
- Art: They may have the ability to recreate a scene with perfect precision straight from memory or create artistic masterpieces.
- Music: A savant may be able to sing with perfect pitch, play an instrument with extreme talent, or play or recognize music by ear just from hearing it once.
- Calendar calculation: They may be able to calculate the day or week of the month or year at any given point or time.
- Spatial/mechanical skills: They may have the ability to put a jigsaw puzzle together lightning fast, hit golf balls in the exact spot every time, read a map extremely well, or calculate distance or height without measurement.
Extraordinary memory often accompanies savant syndrome.
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Carry On The Conversation
Maybe its because they are the closest thing to superheroes are community gets or maybe its because Im just jealous of their awesome abilities, either way I find Savants astonishing. Let me know if you would like to see a further breakdown of what a Savant is in the future by using the comments below. Alternatively, if there are any other Savants that Ive missed today, feel free to add them in a comment below.
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Thank you for reading and I will see you next Saturday for more thoughts from across the spectrum.
Does Savant Mean Autism
The fact that not all savants are autistic is proof that they do not automatically go together. An autistic individual may be born with savant skills or may develop them later in life its not guaranteed just because theyre autistic. Although there are many people with autism, savant syndrome is very rare. In fact, a person may be autistic and may possess some special skills but still may not be classified a savant.
People with severe mental disabilities may also have savant skills. Neither autism nor savant syndrome affects thegenders equally. For every six savants, only one of them is female. In most cases, individuals who appear to be savant should be seen by a specialist whether the individual has autism spectrum disorder or not.
Disclaimer: This content was not written by a medical professional and is not intended to be used as diagnostic or medical advice.
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Most Fascinating Savants In The World
Sometimes the most amazing abilities of the human brain are revealed exactly when things go wrong with it. Take, for example, savants – people who have mental abilities that could only be characterized as superhuman but otherwise severely disabled in every day cognitive functions and social interaction.
Does the human brain have latent savant-like abilities? Does our higher cognitive functions somehow block these abilities, and why? And can we have savant-like abilities without the accompanying autism and/or developmental disabilities? One intriguing study by Dr. Allan Snyder of the Centre for the Mind suggested that temporarily impairing the left fronto-temporal lobe in healthy subjects by low-frequency magnetic pulses could result in savant-like mental abilities
Most savants are born with their abilities , but not all: severe brain injuries can, in very rare instances, cause savant-like abilities to surface . One noted savant is a highly functioning autistic savant who can perform amazing mental feats but does not have significant developmental disabilities.
There are a few savants in the world whose abilities are so exceptional that they would’ve been classified as phenomenal with or without cognitive disabilities. Let’s take a look at 10 savants with superhuman mental skills:
George And Charles Finn
Calendar counting is an extremely difficult skill that allows a person to name the day of the week when given any date. For example, what day of the week was October 16, 1683? To George and Charles Finn, a pair of savant twins who are innately skilled at calendar counting, the answer would come as easily as remembering what they had for breakfastwhich they can also tell you. For every day of their lives.
George and Charles Finn can name any date for 40,000 years into the past or future, which is longer than the calendar has even existedmaybe longer than it ever will.
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Chapter 6 Claim : Savant Skills Special Skills And Intelligence Vary Widely In Autism
Treffert reported that 50% of individuals with savant syndrome were diagnosed with autism, and Howlin and colleagues stated that one third of individuals with autism have special information-processing talents. However, the true prevalence of savant skills in autism has not been determined. Savant and special skills found in autism all occur in typical individuals. As noted earlier, Fabricius theorized that all individuals with autism had a variant of savant sensory information processing. He argued that while typical individuals compress sensory data to prototypes for association across brain systems, savants and individuals with autism who were not savants failed to make prototypes, but retained uncompressed sensory information. He further claimed that individuals with savant syndrome retained all primary sensory information to higher-level processing without compressing any sensory details.
Not only are savant skills an unexplained form of heterogeneity in autism, there is heterogeneity within savant and other special skills that has remained unexplained.
Lynn Waterhouse, in, 2013
The Case For Nurturing Savant Skills
Dr. Temple Grandin , one of the best known autistic advocates, used the following quote to demonstrate the power of educators when it comes to the future of the autistic child: A skilled and imaginative teacher prepared to enjoy and be challenged by the child seems repeatedly to have been a deciding factor in the success and educational placement of high-functioning autistic children. .
Dr. Grandin then goes on to list examples of talented and educated autistic individuals sitting at home because of a lack of mentoring. Dr. Grandin shares that her work is her life, and she feels that an interesting job provides fulfillment for high-functioning individuals on the spectrum .
If plenty of people with autism have special skills, and as many as a third may possess some variant of a savant skill, it seems as though nurturing these talents should be prioritized. When discussing savant skills, Dr. Grandin feels that such talents need to be nurtured and broadened out into something useful. .
To nurture savant and special skills in autistic children, these abilities have to be understood. Information pertaining to how these skills develop and how they are either honed or lost should also be examined to help parents and teachers optimize neurodivergent strengths.
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Who Are The Most Known Savants In The World
You may have seen the movie Rain Man and wondered about the character: Raymond Babbitt. The heartfelt story shows the journey of Raymond Babbitt, an autistic savant, who is used and often exploited by his brother, Charlie Babbitt. While Dustin Hoffman really hit the jackpot with his wonderful acting and almost perfectly encapsulated the role of an autistic savant, the movie did more than that.
It brought out the concept of autistic savants into the light an individual with autism who is somehow massively intelligent in a specific field, despite having a learning disability. Being an autistic savant is rare but it is not impossible. Though the Rain Man did bring the concept of autistic savants into the spotlight, autistic savants existed even before Rain Man. Actually, Rain Man itself was inspired by one such savant.
Here are 10 autistic savants that you might love to hear about:
Is Savant Syndrome A Good Thing
Its fairly common for parents of a child with autism to be told how lucky they are that their child is autistic since autism implies great intelligence and ability. The reality, however, is that few people with autism are savants, though many are very intelligent. It’s been estimated that one out of every ten autistic people are savants.
It is tempting to see savant syndrome as a positive thing. After all, savants are very impressive people with abilities beyond those of ordinary folks. The reality, however, is that it doesn’t necessarily make life easier and, in some cases, it can make life more difficult.
Some autistic savants have extraordinary abilities that can be expanded or channeled in useful directions. For example, some uniquely talented autistic artists and musicians are able to sell their work . In most cases, though, savant skills are “splinter skills,” meaning skills that, while real and significant, are not used in daily life. For example, the ability to recite pages of the phone book from memory, while a prodigious feat, serves no meaningful purpose outside of itself.
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Kim Peek The Real Rain Man
Even though you’ve never heard of Kim Peek, chances are you’ve heard the movie Rain Man. Kim was the inspiration for the character played by Dustin Hoffman in the movie.
Kim Peek was born with severe brain damage. His childhood doctor told Kim’s father to put him in an institution and forget about the boy. Kim’s severe developmental disabilities, according to the doctor, would not let him walk let alone learn. Kim’s father disregarded the doctor’s advice.
Till this day, Kim struggles with ordinary motor skills and has difficulty walking. He is severely disabled, cannot button his shirt and tests well below average on a general IQ test.
But what Kim can do is astounding: he has read some 12,000 books and remembers everything about them. “Kimputer,” as he is lovingly known to many, reads two pages at once – his left eye reads the left page, and his right eye reads the right page. It takes him about 3 seconds to read through two pages – and he remember everything on ’em. Kim can recall facts and trivia from 15 subject areas from history to geography to sports. Tell him a date, and Kim can tell you what day of the week it is. He also remembers every music he has ever heard.
Since the movie Rain Man came out, Kim and his father have been traveling across the country for appearances. The interaction turns out to be beneficial for him, as he becomes less shy and more confident.
Further reading about Kim Peek:
- On YouTube: Kim Peek – The Real Rain Man