Savant syndrome is defined as a condition in which a person demonstrates capacities or abilities that are greatly in excess to that of which would be considered normal. People with savant syndrome may have neurodevelopmental disorders, notably autism spectrum disorders, or brain injuries. For this installment, we're counting down 10 extraordinary savants that are capable of mind-blowing things!
Flo and Kay Lyman
Florence and Katherine Lyman, also known as the "Rainman Twins", are said to be the only female autistic savant twins in the world. Even more impressive is the fact they are the only pair of savant twins with the same talents. They have the ability of calendar calculation and can tell you what the weather was like, what a TV personality was wearing and what they ate for nearly every day of their lives. The twins even went as far as to document what color clothing their favorite TV hosts wore, including Dick Clark from $100,000 pyramid.
Due to a head injury he suffered when he was just a child, Alonzo Clemons lost much, but in return gained a beautiful and magnificent talent. Determined by doctors to have an IQ of no higher than 40, Clemons was left to be seemingly emotionless - though his face would light up with joy with clay in his hands. You see, Clemons gained a gift of art. When he looks at an animal, he is able to create a sculpture of very fine detail using only his hands. His sense of touch is so accurate that he's even able to make these sculptures in the dark.
Orlando Serrell was not born autistic or brain damaged, but rather known as an "acquired savant". One day Serrell was playing baseball with some friends at age 10. Serrell was struck in the left side of the head by a ball, but was able to finish the game. Figuring he was okay once his headache cleared, he never thought to seek medical attention. Serrell came to find he developed a talent called "calendar calculating", meaning he can tell you what day of the week any date fell on. Even more amazing, he can tell you what the weather was like on that day where he was.
Though most people with savant syndrome are born with it, others can acquire it through severe trauma and brain injury - such as the case of Jason Padgett. After being brutally beaten during a mugging, Jason awoke the next day in the hospital... though something was different. He now sees the world overlaid in complex mathematical formulas. Over time he would begin to transcribe what he saw through drawings. These drawings took the form of intricate fractal form shapes and patterns. When neurologists took scans of his brain, what they found was his brain activated rarely used portions to compensate for the damaged areas.
Born premature and underweight, Tony DeBlois was hardly breathing. The doctors rushed to place an oxygen mask on him, unbeknownst to them at the time, that too much oxygen causes blindness. Couple blindness with slow physical development, then add in autism and you have the challenges that Tony DeBlois faces every day. At age 2, Tony sat down in front of a piano for the first time. Growing into music - he learned to play over 20 different instruments, including guitar, trumpet and the ukelele. It is estimated that Tony has roughly 8,000 musical pieces memorized which he learned all by ear.
In an unfortunate twist of fate, Leslie Lemke was born with severe birth defects, ones that required the removal of his eyes. His birth mother gave him up for adoption, and it was at that point that one, May Lemke, took him in as one of her own at just 6 months of age. At age 16, Leslie displayed his hidden talent - when May woke up in the middle of the night to find Leslie playing Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1. Leslie had no musical training, but still managed to play flawlessly after just hearing the song one time. Leslie now plays all kinds of music, and just like he did with the Tchaikovsky piece, he needs only to hear it once.
If you've ever heard of the movie Rain Man, then you've heard the story of Kim Peek... though you probably didn't know it. Born with severe brain damage, Kim's childhood doctor suggested his father send him to an institution and forget about him - as his developmental disabilities were thought to keep him from walking, let alone anything else. Kim's father didn't agree, and returned home with his son. He does have problems. Walking and learning is difficult for him - however, he has the ability to read books two pages at once in roughly 3 seconds. Not just that, but he remembers everything he reads in them.
Facing terrible epilectic seizures as well as a diagnosis of autism at the age of four, Daniel developed the ability to visualize and calculate numbers in his head. Daniel Tammet can calculate numbers on a massive scale, once reciting Pi from memory to the 22,514 decimal, a feat he accomplished on Pi Day, to raise funds for the National Society for Epilepsy. As well as his amazing mathematical talent, Tammet is capable of learning languages at an unprecedented rate - learning Icelandic in just 7 days. Daniel's form of Autism is incredibly uncommon, even among other savants, as he is able to articulate his thoughts clearly.
Diagnosed with autism at a young age, Stephen Wiltshire was sent to a school for special needs children. There, his passions were encouraged and he would find a love of drawing. Mute since a very young age, Stephen would use his art to communicate since childhood - not learning how to speak until he was 9. He began drawing highly detailed and incredibly accurate portraits of things that he saw. Stephen's talent, however, goes much further then just that. In 2009, he was flown over Tokyo for a mere 20 minutes and upon his return to land, was able to draw a 10-meter or nearly 33-foot long picture of the city.
Jonathan Lerman is an autistic savant with an IQ of just 53. At just 2-years old, Lerman would begin to slide into long silences, and would be diagnosed autistic, just a year later. While his autism made if difficult for him to communicate in a typical manner, his artistic ability would help him express what he was thinking. By the age of 10, he began drawing charcoal portraits of friends and people he had seen - even if he had just made them up in his mind. At the age of 14, Lerman had his pieces appearing in New York art galleries.