Sunday, January 15, 2012

Autism and Genius: Chapter Next

A very interesting CBS Sixty Minutes program today told the story of Jake, a kid who started showing autistic symptoms at age two and began regressing in his development. His parents tried everything, and finally found that one thing he loved was numbers. His development of his love of numbers and math coincided with a return of some social skills and language. By age eight, he was a math prodigy, auditing university math classes and getting the highest scores on math tests. Now thirteen, he is a college sophomore and intends to study for a doctorate in physics. He was the youngest person to have published in Phys Rev A

By now, he has an excellent vocabulary, speaks like a very self-possessed adult, and interacts easily and naturally with his fellow college students. Allegedly he has maxed every IQ test he has taken.

One special talent he possesses is a superb, probably eiditic memory for things he is interested in. He claims to never forget any math or physics problem he has ever seen - but couldn't tell you where to find anything in his house.

The program included an interview with a psychology prof who studies autism and autistic savants. About one in ten autistic persons has a savant skill, she said, and one trait they all have in common is exceptional memory.

The story revived and reinforced my faith in the autism-genius link.