10 Famous People With Savant Syndrome
Savant syndrome is a medical condition that is rare in people who present with significant mental disabilities. However, they can demonstrate certain abilities way far from average. People suffering from savant syndrome strive well in skills that are related to memory.
Some of the skills people suffering from Savant syndrome possess include making rapid calculations, they have artistic abilities, map making, and musical abilities. They also present with one exceptional skill. Savant syndrome comes hand in hand with neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism or brain damage.
This condition becomes visible in childhood, but some people develop it later in life. It is estimated that in one million people, you will find one who suffers from Savant syndrome. Savant Syndrome affects more males than females in a ratio of 6:1.
There are several famous people who are suffering from savant syndrome. This condition did not draw them back as they pursued top careers and made it in life. Here are the 10 Famous People With Savant Syndrome:
1. Tom Wiggins
Thomas Wiggins who was famously known as Blind Tom or Tom Wiggins was an American pianist and composer. Tom was born blind and also suffered from autistic savant. He was born blind to a slave family but he never did work like other slaves and got the advantage of playing and exploring the plantations.
Tom is well known for his musical abilities. At the age of 13, he performed a song he had listened to and played two songs at the same time. His white masters discovered the abilities Tom had and took him touring around the southern US making $18,000 per year.
Tom became remarkable with his ability to mimic any sound he heard. Another amazing ability of Tom was playing a piece with his back to the piano, one song with his right hand and another with his left. He could also sing a third at the same time.
2. Jonathan Lerman
Jonathan Lerman, an autism-savant outsider artist was born in 1987. He was born in Queens located in New York, in the United States of America. Jonathan currently lives in Vestal, which is a rural New York suburb.
When he was two years old, Jonathan began having long silences and was diagnosed with autism the following year. It is said that his IQ is 53. At the age of ten, his artistic bent manifested itself in the shape of charcoal-drawn faces, both real and imagined.
He had his own solo show at the KS Art gallery in New York City in 1999. He has had personal exhibitions as well as major exhibitions with groups.
3. Leslie Lemke
Leslie Lemke was born on 31st January 1952 in Milwaukee as a premature baby. He developed retinal problems, then glaucoma which led to the removal of his eyes in the first months of birth. Leslie also suffered from brain damage which resulted in cerebral palsy and significant mental retardation.
His mother gave him up for adoption and nurse governess May Lemke took him in. He learned to stand on his own at the age of 12 and walked at the age of 15. At his home, he learned to sing after his family bought him a piano. He is a renowned savant who is notable for his music.
4. Jason Padgett
Jason D. Padgett is an artist from the United States who developed savant syndrome later in life. He was born in the Alaskan metropolis of Anchorage in 1970. Jason dropped out of Tacoma Community College to work as a salesman for his father’s futon business as a young man.
On the night of September 13, 2002, he was attacked and robbed outside a neighborhood karaoke bar by two men. This attack reportedly altered his brain activity. Padgett started seeing the world in shapes immediately after the attack. Water became tangent lines, and light became beams composed of lines and spirals.
Many of the images he started seeing were related to geometry and physics ideas he had never studied. That is when a renowned psychiatrist diagnosed him with acquired savant syndrome.
Also, read 10 Famous People With Marfan Syndrome.
5. Flo and Kay Lyman
Florence and Katherine Lyman are twin sisters who share the same extraordinary talent. They’re also the only known pair of savant twins with the same calendar-counting ability. However, Flo and Kay stand out even among the incredible talent group of savants.
They are not only twins, but they are also female, which is even more unusual in autism. Their calendar calculation abilities are comparable to those of the Finn twins—they can identify the day on which any date occurs. If you question them about a day in their lives, they’ll tell you exactly what the weather was like, what they ate, and what they did.
The twins, in particular, have an encyclopedic understanding of pop music from the 1960s and 1970s, as well as a fascination with Dick Clark—they can name every outfit he ever wore on the show $100,000 Pyramid.
6. Tony DeBlois
On 22nd January 1974, Tony DeBlois was born as a premature baby who was underweight. He required a lot of air because he weighed less than two pounds to survive. Large amounts of oxygen cause blindness, and doctors at the time were never aware of this.
As a result, Tony went blind when he was only a few days old. He started playing the piano at the age of two. Tony’s condition is autistic savant, but he is a renowned musician.
7. George and Charles Finn
George and Charles Finn, who was popularly known as the Calculating Twins, were autistic twin brothers who came to prominence in the 1960s. They were born and lived in the United States where they expressed their calendar calculation abilities.
They are said to recall the weather for each day of their lives and to be able to identify the day of a particular calendar date over a range of 80,000 years. Their IQ was assessed to be between 60 and 70 at the age of 24. According to Daniel Tammet, an anecdote about them recounted by British doctor Oliver Sacks helped spread the stereotype of the autistic genius.
8. James Henry Pullen
James Henry Pullen was born in 1835 in Dalston, London. He grew up on Balls Pond Road. Together with his brother William, they were both considered deaf, mute, and cognitively disabled.
Pullen had only acquired one word by the age of seven, mother, which he pronounced: “muvver.” However, Pullen could lip read, recognize gestures, and compose understandable blank verse. He began carving small ships out of firewood as a kid and drawing pictures of them. James Pullen is renowned by his nickname, the Genius of Earlswood Asylum.
9. Alonzo Clemons
Born in 1958, Alonzo Clemons is an artist and savant from Boulder, Colorado. As a kid, he suffered a severe brain injury that left him with developmental disabilities. However, Alonzo rose to prominence for his ability to sculpt almost any animal in a realistic and anatomically accurate three-dimensional rendering after only a few seconds of looking at a photo.
10. Tommy McHugh
Tommy McHugh was a British poet and illustrator. McHugh worked as a builder and was engaged in juvenile crime in his youth. At the age of 51, Tommy suffered a stroke on both sides of his head, resulting in two burst blood vessels. He then went into a coma for a week and developed savant syndrome.
His life was changed due to a knock on the toilet door, while he was trying to evacuate his bowels rapidly. The abrupt pressure ruptured an artery in his frontal and temporal lobes, causing him to bleed.
While relearning after his stroke, he started to write poetry to express his feelings. He also went through an identity problem, which was most likely the catalyst for his artistic output.
People with these mental disorders should not be treated as rejects in society as they have a life to live too. Treating them equally and proving them with their basic needs is all they need to survive and become great people.