Jessica Kingsley Publishers
May 15, 2010
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 learn – and sudden genius or “acquired savantism” – where a neurotypical 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 color 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.
Darold A. Treffert, M.D., is Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine. He has worked with savants and researched this rare condition for nearly 50 years, and was a consultant to the award-winning movie Rain Man in which Dustin Hoffman plays the part of an artistic savant. Kim Peek — the inspiration for the film — is just one of the extraordinary individuals Dr. Treffert introduces us to in the book.