Savant Syndrome and Kim Peek

Topics: Savant syndrome, Rain Man, Kim Peek Pages: 6 (1931 words) Published: July 24, 2012
Autism is “a developmental disorder that is characterized by impaired development in communication, social interaction, and behavior,” (Dryden-Edwards, 2010). However, savant syndrome is a very rare form of autism that “occurs when a person with below normal intelligence displays a special talent or ability in a specific area,” (Davidson, 2012). The criteria for DSM-IV is “organized into three categories of symptoms, conceptually approximating Wing and Gould’s (1979) triad of impairment: (a) impairment in social interactions, (b) impairment in communication, and (c) restricted, repetitive, and stereotyped patterns of behavior, interests, and activities,” (Wallace, 2008).In the movie Rain Man the protagonist named Raymond Babbitt clearly shows signs of having savant syndrome. “Rain Man illustrates the problems people with autism have in forming and maintaining relationships, and, in that sense at least shows us they are really not that different from the rest of us,” (Parish, 2008). Charlie Babbitt came into Raymond’s life only by chance because of the death of their father. Charlie is a young exotic car dealer that is having a lot of financial difficulties at the time. He comes to find out that his father has an undisclosed trustee that is inheriting $3 million dollars on behalf of an unnamed beneficiary. In search of this trustee, Charlie comes to find that the money is going to a mental institution. When visiting the mental institution, Charlie finds out that he has an older brother and that his brother, Raymond, is “special”. The behaviors displayed by Raymond are aligned with the three symptoms under the DSM-IV criteria, which were previously stated. Charlie takes the extreme measure of kidnapping Raymond from the mental institution in hopes of a monetary exchange for the amount of $1.5 million dollars. Charlie quickly realizes that his brother has a severe disability and when taken out of his daily routine results in erratic behavior. Quicker than expected, Charlie starts to develop a “brotherly-love” relationship with Raymond. Symptoms

As stated previously, savant syndrome is a very rare form of autism. Raymond shows several symptoms of savant syndrome that are in accordance with the DSM-IV. According to the DSM-IV the symptoms that are that of an autistic savant are, but not limited to, impairments in social interaction and communication, stereotyped and repetitive behavior, extreme fearfulness, flat affect, self-injury, impulsive and aggressive behavior, attention problems, uneven cognition, and hyperactivity; however, the most fascinating aspects of savant disorder is the abilities of individuals with extraordinary remarkable artistic and mathematic abilities. For this reason savant syndrome, which occurs to a rare 10% of autistics, has generated a great deal of curiosity in the disorder. Impairment in Social Interactions

Raymond Babbitt, in the movie Rain Man, displays several behaviors that are in accordance with DSM-IV symptoms starting with impairments in social interaction. Moreover, there are several scenes in the movie that Raymond shows impairment with social interactions. In most of the movie, Raymond displays a lack of social interaction by not making make eye contact with anyone, and not even with his brother Charlie. Avoiding eye contact is a way that an autistic savant may simply shy away from an embarrassing situation. Raymond’s lack of eye contact with Charlie, for the entire movie, indicates that he has a mental disability. Throughout the movie, Raymond also displays a lack of emotion or attachment to someone or something. Furthermore, Charlie asks Raymond different questions and Raymond’s responses are very vague, usually “I don’t know” or when asked open-closed questions, Raymond is simply not able to give a straight forward answer. Impairment in Communication Skills

Raymond also shows symptoms of impairment with his communication skills. Among these impairments is the...
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