Nature sometimes comes down harsh on some people, restricting their ability to perform certain tasks while at the same time, endowing them with the rarest of rare attributes that we sometimes call autism.
As Autism Awareness Month comes to an end leaving a lot behind to think and act, let us look at the amazingly gifted people who are known as ‘autistic savants’, or simply ‘savants’. These people have some mental abilities that render them superhuman. Savants can play music perfectly after hearing it for just once; solve difficult mathematical calculations without using any contraption, and may even have photographic memory. In short, they are extraordinarily talented humans. Let’s have a look at some of the savants.
- Alonzo Clemons – Alonzo’s story is a complete miracle. A head injury in his teens changed his life completely. He could not feed himself and was even incapable of tying his shoelaces. But one fine day he discovered that he can sculpt… and the rest is history.
- Kim Peek (The Real Rain Man) – Many people might have seen the movie Rain Man and the character played by Dustin Hoffman, but how many film lovers know the real man behind that inspiration is Kim Peek? Kim was born with severe developmental disabilities and his father was advised by doctors to put him in an institution and forget about him. Despite this instruction, Kim’s father decided not to let his child be alone. Surprisingly, Kim read almost 12,000 books and remembered everything about them. After this startling incident, Kim got the title ‘Kimputer’. Not only this, he also remembered every piece of music he heard for the first time. Now who can say he is ‘disable’ as he is more capable of what many of so-called normal people aren’t.
- Daniel Tammet – Also known as Brainman, Daniel Tammet is a high functioning autistic savant, which can make him look just as normal as any other man. He is called Brainman because of his exceptional mathematical and language aptitudes. His talent was spotted when he first calculated the value of Pi to 22,514 decimal places, on 3/14/2004 – the International Pi Day, in order to raise funds for the National Society for Epilepsy. Besides, he also speaks 11 different languages, one of which is Icelandic.
- Ellen Boudreaux – Every individual is unique in its own way, so is Ellen Boudreaux. This lady is a blind autistic savant with unexampled musical abilities. She is so gifted that just after hearing a piece of music once, she plays the notes perfectly and has a huge repertoire of songs in her head. Besides this extraordinary talent, Ellen also has two other lesser known savant skills. She can walk around without running into things and she can tell the exact hour and minute without referring to a clock.
- Stephen Wiltshire – Also popularly known as ‘human camera’, Stephen Wiltshire was diagnosed with autism and was sent to a special needs school. Gradually, he developed the passion for drawing and started sketching animals, then London buses, buildings, and the city’s landmarks. With the help of his teachers, Stephen learned to speak at the age of 9 and his first word was ‘paper’. Wiltshire has a remarkable talent of drawing detailed and accurate account of a city by just looking at it once. He drew a 10-meter long vista of Tokyo after taking a brief helicopter ride over the city.
Almost all of us think that if we are incapable of doing something, we are just not qualified enough and can never do that again. Most of us also have the propensity to always talk about the incapability of others, but we forget how capable we are! So, before saying someone ‘you are autistic,’ consider there could be a savant living in him or her.