Savant syndrome is a rare condition in which individuals with developmental disorders, including autism spectrum disorders, have one or more areas of expertise, ability, or brilliance - "islands of genius" - that exist in contrast with their overall limitations. In this fascinating book, Dr. Darold Treffert looks at what we know about this remarkable condition, and at new discoveries that raise interesting questions about the hidden brain potential within us all. Dr. Treffert explores the phenomena of genetic memory - instances in which individuals somehow "know" things they never learned - and sudden genius or "acquired savantism" - where a neuro-typical person unexpectedly and spectacularly develops savant-like abilities following a head injury or stroke. Showing that these phenomena point convincingly towards a reservoir of untapped potential - an inner savant capacity - within us all, he looks both at how savant skills can be nurtured, and how they can help the person who has them, particularly if that person is on the autism spectrum. A central colour section contains the extraordinary artwork of some of the savants who are mentioned in the book.
"Islands of Genius" will intrigue anyone who has ever wondered what makes the mind of a savant tick, as well as clinicians, parents, teachers, therapists, and others who care for, and about, individuals with savant syndrome.
Foreword by Daniel Tammet. Preface. Introduction: Sightseeing on an Incredible Journey.; Part 1. The Mind of the Savant.; 1. What We Do Know: A Rare but Remarkable Condition.; 2. How Do They Do It? Some Earlier Theories from Heredity to Quantum Theory.; 3. How Do They Do It? More Recent Findings: Rewiring, Recruitment and Release.; 4. Genetic Memory: How Do We Know Things We Never Learned?; 5. More Medical Mysteries: Calendars, Cantors, Foreign Accents and Hypermensia.; Part 2. The World of the Savant.; 6. The Genius of Earlswood Asylum and Blind Tom: Some Early Savants.; 7. Leslie and May: "Two Memorable People".; 8. Alonzo: "God Gives the Gift".; 9. George: It's Fantastic I Can Do That".; 10. Kim: "The Real Rain Man".; 11. Ellen: "With a Song in Her Heart".; 12. Tony: "Against All Odds".; 13. Temple: "An Emergence Extraordinaire".; 14. Matt: "In the Key of Genius".; 15. Flo and Kay: An Unforgettable "Two of a Kind".; 16. Daniel: "Numbers Are My Friends".; 17. Stephen: "A Rocket of Young Talent".; 18. Ping Lian, Gregory, Richard and Some Others: Artwork of the Prodigious Savant.; 19. Raymond Babbit in Rain Man: The World's Best Known Savant.; Part 3. Significant New Dimensions to Savant Syndrome.; 20. "Accidental Genius": The Acquired Savant.; 21. "Sudden Genius": An Epiphany of Talent.; 22. "Normal Genius": Dormant Skills Within Us All?; 23. Accessing the "Inner Savant" Within Us All.; 24. The Bountiful Brain: Half a Brain (Or Less) May Be Enough.; Part 4. Training the Talent: "I've Got a Son or Daughter Who...".; 25. Music: Teaching Music to the Special Needs Client: A Music Therapist's Approach.; 26. Art: "Training the Talent" in Art and Other Skills: An Educator's Approach.; 27. Mathematics: Teaching Autistic Numerical Savants: A Specific Approach that Worked.; Part 5. Our Journey Has Just Begun.; 28. New Tools and New Optimism: The Trail Ahead for the Mind of the Savant.; 29. Oval Souls on a Round Planet: The Trail Ahead for the World of the Savant. References. Appendix: Books About, and Books By, Savants. Subject Index. Author Index.