Savants tend to receive a lot of attention as those with exceptional skills are a wonder to everyone. It is sometimes a misconception that lots of autistic individuals are savants, realistically only roughly 10% exhibit savant syndrome and furthermore, only about half of savants are autistic, the other half coming from other developmental disorders. This information can be read on the Wikipedia page for savant syndrome or from the research paper this information was informed from by Darold A. Treffert, MD. Nonetheless, savants can have some spectacular abilities and here are a few –
Stephen Wiltshire -“The Human Camera”
Stephen is known for his extraordinary ability to draw extremely detailed images from memory having only briefly seen a place. Stephen is on the autism spectrum and when he was younger he had limited vocabulary and severe ticks, but through his drawing which was discovered at a young age he has developed into a wonderful adult. Here is the first video I saw of Stephen where he draws an extremely detailed panoramic drawing of Rome after taking a brief helicopter ride over the city. He has numerous other videos and is now also published and all of this can be seen at his website if you click the link on his name. If you want to see more about his life growing up and now, under the video section of his website watch the videos Extraordinary People.
Daniel Tammet – “Brainman”
Daniel has high functioning autism and has an incredible ability with numbers and calculations as well as with languages. He holds the record of reciting pi to 22,514 digits in five hours and nine minutes. He also has unusual abilities with learning languages, given the challenge to learn Icelandic in one week and then preceding to appear on Icelandic television 7 days later speaking perfect Icelandic. Here is the first part of a 5 part video about Daniel from The Boy With The Incredible Brain.
Derek is a blind musician who has autism and a severe learning disability. He was a premature baby, born at only 25 weeks and due to oxygen therapy given during his time in the neonatal intensive care unit he became blind. Derek has the ability to play flawlessly any piece on the piano after hearing it only once, as well as switching between different styles of playing the same song based on other musical legends. This video is the first of 5 parts from The Musical Genius that goes into depth on Derek’s life. You can also click here to see 4 minutes of a great 60 Minutes interview with Derek.
There are countless more interesting savants out there, but these were just three great ones I have come across before who all are on the spectrum.