Welcome to Top10Archive! Savant syndrome is
defined as a condition in which a person demonstrates capacities or abilities that are greatly in
excess to that of which would be considered normal. People with savant syndrome may have
neurodevelopmental disorders, notably autism spectrum disorders, or brain injuries. For
this installment, we’re counting down 10 extraordinary savants that are capable of mind-blowing things!
10. Jonathan Lerman Jonathan Lerman is an autistic savant with
an IQ of just 53. At just 2-years old, Lerman would begin to slide into long silences, and
would be diagnosed autistic, just a year later. While his autism made if difficult for him
to communicate in a typical manner, his artistic ability would help him express what he was
thinking. By the age of 10, he began drawing charcoal portraits of friends and people he
had seen – even if he had just made them up in his mind. At the age of 14, Lerman had
his pieces appearing in New York art galleries. 9. Stephen Wiltshire
Diagnosed with autism at a young age, Stephen Wiltshire was sent to a school for special
needs children. There, his passions were encouraged and he would find a love of drawing. Mute
since a very young age, Stephen would use his art to communicate since childhood – not
learning how to speak until he was 9. He began drawing highly detailed and incredibly accurate
portraits of things that he saw. Stephen’s talent, however, goes much further then just
that. In 2009, he was flown over Tokyo for a mere 20 minutes and upon his return to the
land, was able to draw a 10-meter or nearly 33-foot long picture of the city.
8. Daniel Tammet Facing terrible epileptic seizures as well
as a diagnosis of autism at the age of four, Daniel developed the ability to visualize
and calculate numbers in his head. Daniel Tammet can calculate numbers on a massive
scale, once reciting Pi from memory to the 22,514 decimal, a feat he accomplished on
Pi Day, to raise funds for the National Society for Epilepsy. As well as his amazing mathematical
talent, Tammet is capable of learning languages at an unprecedented rate – learning Icelandic
in just 7 days. Daniel’s form of Autism is incredibly uncommon, even among other savants,
as he is able to articulate his thoughts clearly. 7. Kim Peek
If you’ve ever heard of the movie Rain Man, then you’ve heard the story of Kim Peek…
though you probably didn’t know it. Born with severe brain damage, Kim’s childhood doctor
suggested his father send him to an institution and forget about him – as his developmental
disabilities were thought to keep him from walking, let alone anything else. Kim’s father
didn’t agree, and returned home with his son. He does have problems walking and learning
is difficult for him – however, he has the ability to read books two pages at once in
roughly 3 seconds. Not just that, but he remembers everything he reads in them.
6. Leslie Lemke In an unfortunate twist of fate, Leslie Lemke
was born with severe birth defects, ones that required the removal of his eyes. His birth
mother gave him up for adoption, and it was at that point that one, May Lemke, took him
in as one of her own at just 6 months of age. At age 16, Leslie displayed his hidden talent
– when May woke up in the middle of the night to find Leslie playing Tchaikovsky’s Piano
Concerto No. 1. Leslie had no musical training, but still managed to play flawlessly after
just hearing the song one time. Leslie now plays all kinds of music, and just like he
did with the Tchaikovsky piece, he needs to only hear it once.
5. Tony DeBlois Born premature and underweight, Tony DeBlois
was hardly breathing. The doctors rushed to place an oxygen mask on him, unbeknownst to
them at the time, that too much oxygen causes blindness. Couple blindness with slow physical
development, then add in autism and you have the challenges that Tony DeBlois faces every
day. At age 2, Tony sat down in front of a piano for the first time. Growing into music
– he learned to play over 20 different instruments, including guitar, trumpet and the ukelele.
It is estimated that Tony has roughly 8,000 musical pieces memorized which he learned
all by ear. 4. Jason Padgett
Though most people are born with savant syndrome, others can acquire it through severe trauma
and brain damage – such as the case of Jason Padgett. After being brutally beaten during
a mugging, Jason awoke the next day in the hospital… though something was different.
He now sees the world overlaid in complex mathematical formulas. Over time he would
begin to transcribe what he saw through drawings. These drawings took the form of intricate
fractal form shapes and patterns. When neurologists took scans of his brain, what they found was
his brain activated rarely used portions to compensate for the damaged areas.
3. Orlando Serrell Orlando Serrell was not born autistic or brain
damaged, but rather known as an “acquired savant”. One day Serrell was playing baseball
with some friends at age 10. Serrell was struck in the left side of the head by a ball, but
was able to finish the game. Figuring he was ok once his headache cleared, he never thought
to seek medical attention. Serrell came to find he developed a talent called “calendar
calculating”, meaning he can tell you what day of the week any date fell on, even more
amazing as he can tell you what the weather was like on that day where he was.
2. Alonzo Clemons Due to a head injury he suffered when he was
just a child, Alonzo Clemons lost much, but in return gained a beautiful and magnificent
talent. Determined by doctors to have an IQ of no higher than 40, Clemons was left to
be seemingly emotionless – though his face would light up with joy with clay in his hands.
You see, Clemons gained a gift of art. When he looks upon an animal, he is able to create
a sculpture of very fine detail using only his hands. His sense of touch is so accurate
that he’s even able to make these sculptures in the dark.
1. Flo and Kay Lyman Florence and Katherine Lyman, also known as
the “Rainman Twins”, are said to be the only female autistic savant twins in the world.
Even more impressive is the fact they are the only pair of savant twins with the same
talents. They have the ability of calendar calculation and can tell you what the weather
was like, what a TV personality was wearing and what they ate for nearly every day of
their lives. The twins even went as far as to document what color clothing their favorite
TV hosts wore, including Dick Clark from $100,000 pyramid.