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Radio Shows | Brilliant But Disabled - The Savant | mp3wmawav

Brilliant But Disabled - The SavantWhen the movie Rain Man came out in the late 80ís, people were mesmerized by Dustin Hoffmanís character.

Thatís because he was so talented… an autistic savant who could recite reams of trivia and do impressive number crunching on the spot. Iíve also heard of other savants who can instantly remember a piece of music after hearing it once, then play it back perfectly!

Savants have actually been recorded since the 1700ís and recently, scientists who compared the brains of savants to non-savants found surprising differences that change how we think about them.

The long held assumption about a savantís amazing talents was that it seemingly took no effort. But new research suggests their skills develop after much obsessive practice suggesting anyone may be capable.

Thatíd be remarkable!

What scientists have learned is savants are more likely to be people with autism than those with other mental disorders. And tests given to savants show they all had one common trait: the ability to hone in on details other people miss.

Research further supports this hypersensitivity to details in autistics. When you combine this trait with obsessive practice they can lead to the development of savant skills.

A few brain studies support this theory. They show savants have thicker cortexes in areas of visual-spatial processing and calculation – shaped by practice.

In fact, non-savants like London cabdrivers also have thicker cortexes in the same area. They have to memorize an incredible number of routes. And when they retired, their cortex shrank back suggesting the brain changes to accommodate memory skills.

Though weíre beginning to learn about savants, we still donít have all the answers. As we study further, we may tap into the hidden potential in all of us.

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Links to a book written by Darold A. Treffert, MD a psychiatrist at St. Agnes Hospital in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, has studied the syndrome for years. He is the author of the book, Extraordinary People: Understanding the Savant Syndrome, which chronicles case studies of Savant Syndrome patients. He also was a consultant to the movie Rain Man. On this web site he describes the condition, reviews and summarizes the world literature on this topic since the early reports, describes more recent cases, and catalogs and categorizes savant abilities. He also provides a bibliography for references, and profiles of savant syndrome patients.
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The journal Pediatrics released new statistics compiled by the CDC on the prevalence of autism, boosting the rate from 1 in 150 to 1 in 100. this is a significant increase — more than doubling the rate of children diagnosed with autism since 1996.
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There is an online article in Atlantic Magazine titled "Behind the Autism Statistic" by Jody Becker. It addresses the autism-like vs. autism issue. It focuses on one families struggle with this issue and all that it entails. It also points out the difficulty in separating the medical diagnoses from educational diagnoses and 'from 'get-help' labels to qualify for services.
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The publication in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal society that talks about the skills of the savant and how they may be available to healthy minds can be read here.


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