What is Savant Syndrome?
Savant Syndrome is a rare condition where people with developmental disorders that affect their intelligence, like autistic disorder or some sort of brain disease, have astonishing intellectual gifts in some areas.
It can be genetic or inborn, as well as being acquired later in someone’s life.
It is important to note that a “talented autistic person” does not have Savant Syndrome. Someone with Savant Syndrome will have talents that are rare and extreme.
Approximately 1 in 10 people with autism has Savant Syndrome, but in other developmental disorders, Savant Syndrome occurs less that 1% of the time.
Savant Syndrome occurs around six times more frequently in men than women, because of the high proportion of autistic people with it, which also has a disproportionate male:female ratio.
Types of Savant Syndrome
The most portrayed types of Savant Syndrome in media are musical, artistic, or mathematical, like being able to mentally calculate extremely quickly, or to be able to perform variations of a piece of music after a single hearing. However, these are very rare cases of Savant Syndrome- only 75 cases are reported currently.
Savant Syndrome Abilities
The most common Savant Syndrome abilities are called splinter skills, which include obsessive preoccupation with very niche subjects, like geography or sports trivia or historical facts.
Other Savant skills include being able to pick up multiple languages easily, being able to calculate the passage of time without needing a clock, or artistic talent in painting or drawing.
At an early age, Stephen was found to be unable to communicate verbally, but instead he communicated through drawing, which he discovered a passion for from a young age, drawing everything and anything he could. As an adult, he is often described as having a”photographic memory”, even being nicknamed the “Human Camera”, as he was able to draw from memory everything he saw. For example, he went over Tokyo back in 2005 in a helicopter, and he drew a perfect 10 m drawing of the city. He has since done many drawings of other cities and they were also perfect.
Leslie was born prematurely, causing him to have severe brain damage and cerebral palsy. He was adopted by a woman called May, who discovered Leslie’s Savant Syndrome, saying that she had woken up one night, believing she had forgotten to turn the TV off, but she found Leslie sitting at her piano and playing Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No.1 perfectly, just having listened to it once earlier that day. Leslie had no musical training prior to that.