Savant Children

Savant talent and autism spectrum disorder

People with savant syndrome are characterized by the fact that they have a remarkable talent in one or more domains.  Savant syndrome has a distinct psychological profile in autism.

What this basically means is that a prodigious talent (a talent far beyond what is usual in magnitude or degree) can co-occur with a development condition such as autism spectrum disorder.

Not all autists have a savant talent and there is no clear reason as to why some autistic people develop savant skills and others do not.  A typical autistic savant will be an adult or child that displays remarkable abilities or skills in one of several domains.

Considering all the abilities in the human repertoire – it is interesting that savant skills generally narrow into five general categories which are:

  1. Artistic savant – usually drawing, painting or sculpting perfection and creativity is displayed from a very young age.
  2. Calendar calculating – a curiously obscure skill and ability.
  3. Mathematical savant – includes lightning fast calculating ability as well as the ability to compute prime number for example in the absence of other simple arithmetic abilities.
  4. A musical savant – an individual that can play lengthy musical compositions from memory after a single hearing. Some musical savants able have an incredible ability to play musical instruments without any formal training.
  5. A mechanical or spatial savant has the capacity to measure distances precisely without benefit of instrument, the ability to construct complex models or structures with painstaking accuracy or the mastery of map making and direction finding.

What makes savant skills so remarkable is that they often develop in early childhood and in the absence of formal teaching.   Inherently – Research suggests that savant skills occur far more frequently in males than females and suggests a ratio of 6:1.

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Ilse Kilian-Ross
ilse@amazingk.co.za

Ilse Kilian-Ross is the owner of Amazing K, a registered ECD and Partial Care Facility in Johannesburg. Amazing K is a private adhd school, autism school and therapy centre for children from age 2 - 6 years where learners receive the best of both the schooling and therapy world. The autism school offers Individualized Education Programs, Speech- and Augmentive Alternative Communication (AAC) therapy as well as a full and adapted Academic Curriculum.