Science & Technology Society

The Savant Syndrome


Definition: Savant Syndrome is a condition in which persons with various development disabilities but astonishing special islands of ability or brilliance.

Origin and history: It was first named Idiot Savant in 1887 by Dr. J. Langdon Down. However, the term Idiot Savant is replaced by Savant Syndrome now. It was used to describe people with IQ lower than 25, but actually those people have an IQ above 40.

Current state: 10% of persons with Autistic Disorder have some savant abilities. Idiot savant occurs in males more frequently than in females in an approximate ratio of 6:1. There are fewer than 25 prodigious savants living at the present time.



Why they have special talents: The most plausible explanation is that their left brains are damaged from pre-natal, peri-natal or post-natal, while their right brains, which are responsible for some talents, develop much better. Left brains develop later than right brains, so they are more likely to be damaged. Those special skills are always liked with phenomenal memory, which is not commonly used by normal people.

What talents do they have: Savant skills occur within a narrow range of human functions, generally in six areas: calender calculating, lightening calculating & mathematical ability, art, music, mechanical abilities and spatial skills. The most common one is musical ability. In some cases, they have a single skill, but in other cases, they may have several different skills.

How to develop: Their talents are abstractly locked in a very narrow coding, but constant practice and repetition can produce sufficient coding, which helps them to develop their abilities. Teachers and others play a major role in developing and polishing the skills.



Because of a film called Rain Man made it almost became a household word. What the most important point is that the savant in the film is a high functioning person with autistic disorder, but the disorder consists of an entire spectrum of disability ranging from profoundly disturbed to high functioning.

For many years, people had tried to help those people. Training is very important and “training talent ” is a valuable approach towards increasing socialization, language and independence. Thus these special skills can be used in many different ways as many useful tools as a conduit toward normalization in these special persons. What’s more, some schools started to include person with Savant Syndrome into classes for the gifted and talented as a method of enhancing further this conduit toward normalization.