Fr. Reece, pd. 7
There is a mental illness called “Autism Savant”. “Autism” is from a Greek word meaning “self” This refers to an autistic’s seeming self absorption. “Savant” is a combination of the French word meaning “to know” and its Latin half means “to be wise”. Autistic people are very simple, usually very kind and funny. Autistic savant, however, has all of that, twisted into a blend that can be extremely useful or disastrous. Every person with savant syndrome has incredible memory in one specific field. Many common such fields are, for example, knowledge of U.S. Presidents, random trivia, license plate numbers or outstanding understanding of mathematical equations, turning he/she into a human calculator. One man has been known to hear a piano concerto but a single time, and play it flawlessly right back. But only about half of the people who suffer from Savant are also autistic. Males are known to be more prone to Savant Syndrome than females. In many common cases the victim is born with it, or it can be developed following severe brain trauma or with a specific type of dementia. People with savant-like symptoms are described in medical journals in 1751. The affliction was named “idiot savant” in 1887 by Dr. J. Langdon Down, who also discovered Down syndrome. People with very low IQ’s were, in the day, officially called, “idiots.”
This affliction is portrayed by Dustin Hoffman in the 1988 classic Rain Man. Tom Cruise plays the Rain Man’s normal, albeit somewhat self-destructive, brother, Charles Sanford “Charlie” Babbit. Charlie has just discovered that the Rain Man (whose real name is Raymond) is his long-lost brother. Charlie was thrown out of his house by his father as a teenager and had all but completely lost contact with his dad up until his death. In his last will and testament, Charlie’s father left him a bed of roses and ’48 Buick convertible that Charlie had long coveted. Charlie later...