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Autistic Savant: The Simplicity Behind Geniality

1915 words - 8 pages

More often than not, the most startling capabilities of the human brain are exposed precisely when anatomical, or physiological, deficiencies take place. Take, for instance, savants - people who have mental abilities that could only be characterized as superhuman but otherwise severely disabled in daily cognitive functions and social interaction. At first sight Michael (Mikey), seems like an average seven year old boy; he’s slim, of short stature, with big almond-shaped green eyes. Mikey rarely speaks, and the atypical occasions, in which he does, it is to hum the sound of a nearby bird. Yet Mikey is everything but average; in fact he’s an extraordinary boy. Being only seven Mikey plays the piano, the organ, the violin, and the cello. His prodigious memory is palpable by the Vivaldi, Mozart, and Beethoven precise replicas played out of memory, as well as his exceptional ability to recall all capitals of the world. He likes order, prefers solitude, and is intrigued by musical symbols. He feels music, smells colors, and sees sounds, a rare neurological phenomenon known as Synesthesia1. Neuropsychologist Dr. J. Shea Ph.D MD, at Mount Sinai Medical Center, in 2004, diagnosed Mikey,—four at the time— as an Autistic Savant, changing the complete course of his life, that of his mother, and bringing to Florida its first prodigy. To understand Mikey’s condition as an Autistic Savant, the pathophysiology, symptomology, theories, and treatment of both Autism and Savantism must be discussed. In addition, the differences between Savantism,—a syndrome—and Autism—a neurodevelopmental disorder—will be thoroughly examined as both a psychological, and a neurological deficit; and moreover, the standards, statistics, and theories of intelligence will be analyzed.

One in every 110 children is diagnosed, in the United States alone, one out of 70 boys, and this year we will experience a 10-17 percent increase in pediatric patients (Autism Speaks). Statistics have made Autism the most common of the pediatric disorders, making it more prevalent than childhood cancer, juvenile diabetes, and pediatric AIDS combined. Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder of idiopathic2 nature that affects twice as many boys as it does girls. As a pervasive developmental disorder (PDD), Autism is characterized by impaired social interaction, pervasive behaviors, and linguistic deficits, which account for the solitude preferred by most Autistic patients. “There is no clinical correlation between mental retardation and Autism” admitted Dr. Shea (int.); “however some Autistics have been diagnosed with some sort of high-functioning mental retardation,” (int.) he continued. The symptoms of Autism become apparent in the first two-to-three years of life, and early diagnosis has the greatest prognosis to healthy years. Some autistic babies will crawl or walk at very young age, while others may be passive, and easily agitated a common precedent of tantrums. However; nearly all babies will...

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