These remarkable individuals manifest behaviors that are nothing short of extraordinary.
Despite the historical label of "idiot savant", savants usually have IQ's within the average to above average range (Donnelly
& Altman, 1994). They manifest behaviors such as delayed speech development, inability to maintain eye contact, a hypersensitivity
to sound and obsessive behaviors (hand flapping, top spinning, rocking) (Hendrickson, 1996). This mental inability (usually
mental retardation or autism) is coupled with exceptional ability in some domain--usually in one of the following six
areas: calendar calculating, lightening calculating, visual art (drawing or sculpting), music (usually perfect pitch), mechanical
abilities and spatial skills (Treffert, 1999).
According to Winner (1996), despite the fact that savants are severely impaired in all domains
other than in the domain of their gift, they are in some respects similar to gifted children without disabilities. For
example, it is common for both gifted children without disabilities and savants to be obsessed with the domain of their gift--art,
music, mathematics, etc. They have an unstoppable "rage to master" the domain and exercise their special skill.
And, like other gifted children, they need little encouragement, support or instruction to explore their area of talent.
The above pictures were drawn by an autistic girl named Nadia when she was five years old.