A little boy quietly sits in front of a piano, with his fingers poised over the bright white keys. His teacher, seated beside him on the bench, plays a complicated series of chords, filling the air with a beautiful melody. After a single hearing, the boy begins to play, perfectly reproducing the song he had just heard. As the last notes fade away, the boy sits still for a moment and then begins to rock gently back and forth, only stopping once the music begins again
A genius. A prodigy. One might label this child as such after witnessing this type of performance, were it not for the little nuances of the situation: the rocking, the cold, unemotional expression on the boy's face, and his lack of response to the voices around him. Instead, this boy is diagnosed with Savant Syndrome. Savant syndrome is extremely rare. People with autistic disorders, developmental disabilities, or mental retardation may be born with it. It can also develop later in childhood or even adulthood after a brain injury or with certain type of dementia (schizophrenia). It occurs more frequently in males than females with a ratio of 6 to1.
All people with Savant syndrome have an amazing memory that is very focused in one area. There are many forms of Savant abilities. The most common forms involve mathematical calculations, memory feats, artistic abilities, and musical abilities. A mathematical ability which many display is calendar memory. They could be asked a question like: "What day of the week was May 22, 1961?" and they can determine the answer within seconds-Monday. Others can multiply and divide large numbers in their head and can also calculate square roots and prime numbers without much hesitation. Examples of memory feats include: remembering everything about presidents (birth/death, term in office, names and birthdates of family members, cabinet members, etc.) memorizing the U.S. highway system, and remembering everyone's birthdate, even after meeting the person once and...
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