Savant Syndrome

By: Sylvia Coletti


Those with Savant Syndrome are people who, despite a serious mental or physical disability, have a quite remarkable and sometimes spectacular talent. Savant syndrome was first properly recognized by Dr. J. Langdon Down in 1887 and he referred to an individual with savant syndrome as an "idiot savant". This term was not widely accepted due to its negative connotations.

Individuals who have Savant Syndrome usually are either autistic or have Central Nervous System injuries. The population of Savants is split at about 50% with autism and 50% having Central Nervous System injuries.

There are three types of Savants:

Splinter Savants- where their skills are in contrast with their overall level of functioning.

Talented Savants - where their skills are in contrast with their overall disability.

Prodigious Savants- where not only do the skills contrast with their disability but they would be viewed as extraordinary by someone without a disability.

The Savant can have all sorts of different abilities ranging from: Memorization, Lightening Calculation, Calendar Calculation, Musical Ability, Artistic Ability, and Language Ability.

There is no overall accepted, one theory of why a certain population of the autistic community would have savant abilities. So its a sort of mystery to us still.

Richard Wawro is an artist with savant syndrome.  

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