Savant syndrome, sometimes abbreviated as savantism, is not a recognized medical diagnosis, but researcher Darold Treffert describes it as a rare condition in which persons with developmental disorders have one or more areas of expertise, ability, or brilliance that are in contrast with the individual’s overall limitations. Treffert says the condition can be genetic, but can also be acquired.

According to Treffert, about half of all persons with savant syndrome have autistic disorder, while the other half have another developmental disability, mental retardation, brain injury or disease. He says, “… not all autistic persons have savant syndrome and not all persons with savant syndrome have autistic disorder”.[1] Other researchers state that autistic traits and savant skills may be linked, or have challenged some earlier conclusions about savant syndrome as “hearsay, uncorroborated by independent scrutiny”.

Though it is even more rare than the savant condition itself, some savants have no apparent abnormalities other than their unique abilities. This does not mean that these abilities weren’t triggered by a brain dysfunction of some sort but does temper the theory that all savants are disabled and that some sort of trade off is required.


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