IN THEIR DISABILITY, LIES A GREAT ABILITY.

Have you ever walked past a man who is physically disabled but your thoughts tells you he is mentally incapable? Have you believed that these sets of people are the most disadvantaged on the planet? Maybe you just don’t like them because of their physical appearance. Well its not just you. Many parents have rebuked giving birth to such kids. Some have undergone abortion when results of amniocentesis showed their unborn kid(s) were unique.

Be it Autism Spectrum Disorder, Feeblemindedness, or any form of developmental disorder caused by CNS injury either congenital (from birth) or acquired (adulthood), what you have seen in those people are beyond physical disability or mental retardation. I will go with the prevalent one- Autism.


A research was carried out and it was realized 10% of people with Autism have a rare but spectacular diagnosis called Savant Syndrome. Savant syndrome is a rare but spectacular condition in which people with a developmental disorder including but not limited to autism demonstrate some extra ordinary abilities which are in clear comparison to their overall limitations. In essence, the savants traits they possess stand in contradiction to their overall abilities. These small percentage of people with autism exhibit some form of extraordinary traits which an average man -who is mentally, physically and psychologically enabled- does not possess.

As mentioned earlier, this condition is not only present among autistic patients, it spans across a wide range of developmental disorders but with few probabilities. 1 out of every 10 autistic patients have it while 1 out of 1400 patients of mental disorder exhibit some savant traits.


People with savant syndrome demonstrate some exceptional qualities that most times go beyond verbal explanations. The people you thought were retarded may be way more developed than you could imagine. They demonstrate unmatched skills in areas such as music, art, mathematics, mechanical skills, and calendar calculating.


The first case of savant syndrome was recorded in a scientific journal about 200 years ago. And Dr. J Langdon Down in his theory several years after that described a case of a boy who had memorized the Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire and could recite it backward or forward. That may seem quite complex.

Another case was that of a visually impaired man, Leslie Lemke, whose I.Q tests showed he had a comparably low level of intelligence.
But the man demonstrated great savants traits. According to his evaluator, at age 14 he was able to play back Tchaikovsky’s First Piano concerto flawlessly and can do that to this day on request. At a 1989 concert in Neenah, Wis., for example, a young girl came up to the stage in the challenge portion of the concert and played “Mississippi Hotdog.” Leslie listened and then, when asked, dutifully played back the piece as he had heard it. Several years later, Leslie Lemke was at a concert and at this particular concert Leslie was asked to play a piece he had never heard before with the other pianist, rather than waiting for the piece to conclude and then play it back after hearing it as he usually does. The other pianist began playing. Leslie waited about three seconds and then did indeed play the piece with the other pianist, separated only by those three seconds. In that three-second delay, Leslie was taking in what he heard, processing it, and simultaneously outputting the music as he played along with the other pianist.


Leslie’ a case is not the exception but the rule in other musical savants like Derex, Ellen etc.
In 1923, Minogue reported a case in which musical genius appeared in a 3-year old child following meningitis.


Also common among savants is calendar calculating. No doubt, an average person could laboriously learn calendar calculating using formulas and series of practice sessions. However, Rush (1789), the father of American psychiatry, provided one of the earliest reports when he described the lightning calculating ability of Thomas Fuller ‘who could comprehend scarcely anything, either theoretical or practical, more complex than counting’. However, when Fuller was asked how many seconds a man had lived who was 70 years, 17 days and 12 hours old, he gave the correct answer of 2 210 500 800 in 90 s, even correcting for the 17 leap years included.


While some may develop a sole skill, some have a combination of these extraordinary traits. Take for example the case of a 57 year old man who was said to have inspired the movie “Rain Man”. The now 57-year old man has memorized over 6000 books, can name all the U.S area codes and all the major city zip codes. He has memorized all the U.S maps in front of telephone books and can tell you how to go from one U.S city to another and how to go about those cities street by street. Surprising, isn’t it? Of unique interest is his ability to read extremely rapidly, simultaneously scanning one page with the left eye and the other page with the right eye.


Well, I am not saying the results of your I.Q tests do not exceed those of the savants. You might like to try this yourself to see how you do. Study the grid for as long as you like, then remove it and write the figures on another sheet of paper from memory:
6 2 4 8 4 9
7 3 2 5 0 3
4 8 9 3 4 3
1 3 5 8 9 4
5 7 2 8 4 2
2 4 7 9 0 3

This was given to a man, Joseph Sullivan, who showed some savants skills. Like other mathematical savants, numbers are his friends. He can do mathematical equations in his head quickly and accurately. When appearing on the Oprah Winfrey show in January 1989, for example, it took him only seconds to multiply, in his head, and give the correct answer to the problem 41 x 385 = 15,785. A second test was even more striking as he gave correctly in 15 seconds, without paper and pencil, the answer to this problem: 341 x 927 = 316,107. He is fascinated with license plate numbers and remembers myriads of them only glimpsed at years earlier. He has perfect pitch and, like all savants, a phenomenal memory. The strength of that memory was demonstrated recently when Joseph was given a 36-number grid to study for two minutes; he was able to then recall all 36 numbers correctly exactly as they appeared in that grid in 43 seconds.

I gave the same grid for everyone else to study as long as they can. It took this exceptional being two minutes. How many minutes have you spent on the first row and second column alone?


His mother, Mrs. Sullivan, describes Joseph as a very bright infant; at age 18 months he was able to put together a picture puzzle of the United States. At age 4 he would draw maps of entire continents with all the countries and all their capitals correctly spelled including complicated words such as Czechoslovakia.


This is just few of the many cases of savants in the history of mankind. These people are so rare and special. It’s high time we stopped disregarding them in the society. Their skills could be harnessed to make the world a better place. Ensure you make a contribution towards the growth of these people. Why do you think they have a separate home to live? It’s because we have become so intolerable to them. When we discuss issues of certain undiscovered traits in kids, we should include these people in our discussion. When we mention how administrators bury talents with their useless policies, we should remember how we treat these spectacular beings with our intolerance. While you may think this people are disabled, they are able to do things beyond your imaginations. In their DISABILITY lies a great ABILITY.


How do they do it? Can I also acquire such abilities without undergoing any form of developmental disorder or CNS (Central Nervous System) catastrophe? Watch out for more…

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