Kim Peek (November 11, 1951 – December 19, 2009)

Kim Peek was an American savant. Known as a “megasavant”, he had an exceptional memory, he experienced some social difficulties, however he grew to be outwardly engaging.

According to Peek’s father, Fran Peek, Kim was able to memorize things from the age of 16–20 months. He read books, memorized them, and then placed them upside down on the shelf to show that he had finished reading them, a practice he maintained. He could speed through a book in about an hour and remember almost everything he had read, memorizing vast amounts of information. According to an article in The Times newspaper, he could accurately recall the contents of at least 12,000 books.

He was the inspiration for the character of Raymond Babbitt, played by Dustin Hoffman in the movie Rain Man.

Screenwriter Barry Morrow gave Kim his Oscar statuette to carry with him and show at appearances; it has since been referred to as the “Most Loved Oscar Statue” as it has been held by more people than any other. Kim also enjoyed approaching strangers and telling them on which day of the week they were born and what news items were on the front page of major newspapers. Peek also appeared on television many times. Kim Peek’s parents divorced in 1981, and his father cared for him alone until his son’s death.

During one presentation Mr. Peek gave at Oxford University in England, after he fielded students’ questions about the Lusitania and about British monarchs, a young woman stood and asked him, “Kim, are you happy?”

“I’m happy just to look at you,” Mr. Peek said.

Peek died of a heart attack on December 19, 2009 at age 58.

read more:
here and here


Forget what you know | Jacob Barnett | TEDxTeen

Jacob Barnett is an American mathematician and child prodigy. At 8 years old, Jacob began sneaking into the back of college lectures at IUPUI. After being diagnosed with autism since the age of two and placed in his school’s special ed. program, Jacob’s teachers and doctors were astonished to learn he was able to teach calculus to college students.

At age nine, while playing with shapes, Jacob built a series of mathematical models that expanded Einstein’s field of relativity. A professor at Princeton reviewed his work and confirmed that it was groundbreaking and could someday result in a Nobel Prize.

At age 10, Jacob was formally accepted to the University as a full-time college student and went straight into a paid research position in the field of condensed matter physics. For his original work in this field, Jacob set a record, becoming the world’s youngest astrophysics researcher.

His paper was subsequently accepted for publication by Physical Review A, a scientific journal shared on sites such as NASA, the Smithsonian, and Harvard’s webpage. Jacob’s work aims to help improve the way light travels in technology.

Jacob is also CEO and founder of Wheel LLC, a business he started in his mom’s garage, and is in the process of writing a book to help end “math phobia” in his generation.

Jacob’s favorite pastime is playing basketball with the kids at his charity, Jacob’s Place. It is a place where kids with autism are inspired every day to be their true authentic selves…just like Jacob.

Support autistic people who don’t fit the stereotypes

Support autistics who are women

Support autistics who are trans or nonbinary or any other marginalized gender identity

Support autistic people of color

Support autistics who aren’t savants

Support autistic people who fluctuate between verbal and nonverbal

Support autistic people with special interests that aren’t STEM related

Support autistics who can “pass” as neurotypical in public but struggle at home

Support all autistics

We are all unique people with unique combinations of autistic traits.

Whether you fit the stereotypes, break every one, or are somewhere in between, you are valid and deserving of support

The problem with popular media’s fetishisation of autistic savantism is twofold:

  1. It leads to any exceptional talent on the part of an autistic person being regarded as some freakish hardwired “trick”, even if the individual in question has worked hard to achieve it.
  2. It leads to autistic folks who don’t display some extraordinary talent being regarded as broken or defective (even moreso than folks on the spectrum are already regarded as broken or defective, anyway).
Why can some Autistic people can have enhanced skills like drawing or memory?

Observers have found that the incredible skills of many “savants” reflect an incredible amount of time spent obsessively practicing or memorizing one thing—like say the calendar—allowing them to perform impressive feats—like telling you the day of the week for any date within 1000 years almost instantly.

But, there’s another aspect to some Autistic savants. Researchers have found that some savants have reduced activity in the parts of the fore-brain that are responsible for what we usually think of as information processing—basically the part of the brain that packages information in a way we understand.

In you, presumably, this part of the brain takes a bunch of lines drawn on a piece of paper and tells you that it’s, say, a house. If you wanted to draw it later, this part of your brain would remember “house” and then try to rebuild the lines from that memory, plus the sensory memories that accompanied it. This is why most people’s drawings of a house are house-like, but hardly photo realistic.

In the savant, that first step is suppressed. So they see the lines, but they don’t remember it as “house,” they remember it as “bunch of lines.” So, later, when they try to draw it, there’s no interference from this organizing principle. They just reproduce the lines, sometimes in an order that would make no sense to a non-savant (part of the roof, than a corner of a window, then the top half of the door), and can reproduce it with startling accuracy.

The same thing can happen with numbers, allowing for really fast calculation since they don’t have to stop and consider the numbers as “numbers,” but just run the operations directly.

Again, this isn’t super common. And I don’t know how widely accepted this explanation is, but I’ve always found it nifty.


how to prevent sensory overwhelm

The downside of being autistic is that our nervous systems tend to be very sensitive to sensory input, and tend to go into overwhelm, causing meltdowns or shutdowns. (AKA “sensory processing disorder”.) That’s a simplistic explanation, but this piece is aimed at people who already know what I’m talking about :-D

The beauty of being autistic is that we come with built-in ways to calm our nervous systems. I think of these as autistic superpowers (and not the only ones we have, imho). But a lot of allistic people play a kind of “unless you’re a savant/genius, autistic people aren’t worthwhile human beings” game with us so some of us are not into the idea of having superpowers. If that’s you, just think of it as a handy built-in tool.

The downside (again) is that many of us are forced out of using those built-in tools by people who don’t want us to “seem autistic.” So, often, we never discover them, or are viciously forced to suppress them. Additionally, each of us has slightly different tools. For example, rocking might help me, but make someone else feel seasick.

The following is a short guide to how to find the tools that will get YOU out of overwhelm, or prevent you from even going into it.

First, you need some options for what your tools might be. I’ll put a bunch of suggestions at the end of this post. You may also have some things that have helped you in the past.

My experience was that I had a handful of things that I knew helped, but I didn’t use them consistently. Part of the purpose of this piece is to encourage you to be aware not only of what works for you, but of when you need to use it. It is A LOT easier to do this kind of self-care when you have a sense that it will actually work consistently, and a sense of how well it will work for you!!

Also, if you are the parent of an autistic child: this is the shit you should be teaching them. Thank you. Sincerely, a former autistic child.

STEP ONE: On a scale of 0-10, where 0 is “perfectly calm,” 5 is “getting overwhelmed,” and 10 is “already having a meltdown/shutdown,” rate how close you are to sensory overwhelm. 

Autistics, please note: it does not matter if you “get it right.” There really is no objective gauge for this. It doesn’t matter, because we are measuring how much (or whether) this number changes.

So if today you say you’re at a 7, and tomorrow you feel the same way but you have a better sense of how overwhelmed you can get and you now call the same feeling a 3… it doesn’t matter.

All we care about here is how far you currently feel like you are from 0, and then, how close we can get the number to 0. So just pick something that sounds pretty accurate. 

STEP TWO: Write it down. Please and thank you.

STEP THREE: Pick a thing to try.

STEP FOUR: Set a timer and try it for three minutes. UNLESS you hate it. If you hate it, or even just find it really annoying, please stop immediately, pick something else, and try THAT for three minutes.

(Please note: three minutes is a little bit of an arbitrary number. I find that it’s a pretty good amount of time to actually shift things, while not taking too long to try something else. But if you want to try it for more or less time, go right ahead. I do recommend trying everything (that you don’t immediately reject) for the same amount of time - it just doesn’t have to be three minutes long.)

STEP FIVE: Stop doing the thing, and gauge where you are on the same 0-10 scale.

STEP SIX: Write your current number down.

STEP SEVEN: If you have found something that significantly reduced your overwhelm, you can stop. I mean, you can stop any time anyway, I’m not the boss of you. But you don’t have to go through and test everything on the list below. Just find as many things as you want; or spend as much time doing this at once as you want. You can always do it again later if you want more tools.

That’s it!

anniegst served as my guinea pig for this method yesterday. Thanks, Annie!

She rated her overwhelm as an 8 initially. I found a no-talking, crinkle-sounds ASMR video and handed her the headphones. She almost immediately was like, “this is reaaaaallly annoying, sorry.”

I asked her if there were other sounds that would not be annoying. She said that she thought even white noise would be okay, like rain or something. I switched to the white noise app we both use (Relax and Sleep, which is awesome bc you can play more than one sound at once – it’s free on both Android and iOS) and put the fountain noise on.

She listened to it for about three minutes, and re-rated her overwhelm. As a 2!!

She said that she thought if she kept listening (or if the dog in the other room stopped barking) she would be able to get down to a zero.

I didn’t check in with her to see if she did. But I did get the dog to stop barking!

Here is the list of different things people said helped them, when I requested your “autistic swiss army knives”. There are A LOT OF THEM, and there are likely far more out there. I think this gives a great overview of the possibilities though, thanks everybody!!!!

I’ll give you the summary first: By far the most common ones were rocking, and pressure from blankets/sheets, either weighted or wrapped tightly. Flapping and music – in general or loud, or on repeat, or specific pieces – were also extremely popular. I’ve mostly tried to only put each of these once when many people suggested them, but I’ve included a few variants below.

There were also multiple people mentioning echolalia, chewing on things (gum/chew necklaces/toys/fingers), singing, playing with one’s hair, reading, drinking tea, playing with textures, drawing/coloring, and showering!

Try whatever you like, and enjoy!

Keep reading

So i have just finished reading this amazing book called Born On A Blue Day. I am definitely not a reader but I think this book is an interesting and fairly easy book to read.

It is about an auto-biographical book about an autistic savant the author Daniel Tammet lives in the UK and has a very interesting life and letting the readers into his very puzzling (to me), intriguing, and extraordinary mind.

Enhanced Perceptual Functioning in Autism: An Update, and Eight Principles of Autistic Perception

Abstract:  We propose an ‘‘Enhanced Perceptual Functioning’’ model encompassing the main differences between autistic and non-autistic social and non-social perceptual processing: locally oriented visual and auditory perception, enhanced low-level discrimination, use of a more posterior network in ‘‘complex’’ visual tasks, enhanced perception of first order static stimuli, diminished perception of complex movement, autonomy of low-level information processing toward higher-order operations, and differential relation between perception and general intelligence. Increased perceptual expertise may be implicated in the choice of special ability in savant autistics, and in the variability of apparent presentations within PDD (autism with and without typical speech, Asperger syndrome) in non-savant autistics. The overfunctioning of brain regions typically involved in primary perceptual functions may explain the autistic perceptual endophenotype.

This article is well worth reading if you can figure out a way to read through all the academic jargon.  I can’t 100% understand it and I’ve read it over and over again throughout the years, but it’s still the best explanation of autism (including many things not explained any other way) I’ve ever read through actual researchers.  And it makes more sense to me than a lot of more popularized theories that are easier to communicate about, but incorporate less of the research literature into their explanations of things.  The above link is a PDF file.  And warning that it’s not easy going, reading-wise, at all, but if you can slog through even a little of it, it’s worth it.  It explains things (including seeming “discrepancies” in research) that other theories simply don’t explain at all and don’t even try to explain.  And most notably for some people here, it makes the case that social skills aren’t the fundamental difference between autistic and nonautistic people at all.  Autistic people interested in theories of autism at all should try to become as familiar with Enhanced Perceptual Functioning as they are with “intense world theory” and the like – more so, if possible, although again it’s harder because EPF is written in the language of research and IWT is usually written for popular audiences.  Ideally, someone who can easily read this kind of jargon could help translate papers like this for the rest of us, but I don’t know if that’s going to happen.

Born on a Blue Day

I just finished reading a new book “Born on a Blue Day”. Basically it’s about an Autistic Savant who overcomes all of his difficulties in life to live his life to the fullest. He even learned 7 different languages!

I absolutely LOVED this book. I highly recommend it. It really showed me that no matter what you’re given in life, you can still make your life beautiful and fulfilling. 


Derek Paravicini - British Musical Savant
Jacob Barnett,12, with higher IQ than Einstein develops his own theory of relativity.

A 12-year-old child prodigy has astounded university professors after grappling with some of the most advanced concepts in mathematics.

Jacob Barnett has an IQ of 170 - higher than Albert Einstein - and is now so far advanced in his Indiana university studies that professors are lining him up for a PHD research role.

The boy wonder, who taught himself calculus, algebra, geometry and trigonometry in a week, is now tutoring fellow college classmates after hours.

And now Jake has embarked on his most ambitious project yet - his own ‘expanded version of Einstein’s theory of relativity’.

His mother, not sure if her child was talking nonsense or genius, sent a video of his theory to the renowned Institute for Advanced Study near Princeton University.

According to the Indiana Star, Institute astrophysics professor Scott Tremaine  -himself a world renowned expert - confirmed the authenticity of Jake’s theory.

In an email to the family, Tremaine wrote: 'I’m impressed by his interest in physics and the amount that he has learned so far.

'The theory that he’s working on involves several of the toughest problems in astrophysics and theoretical physics.

'Anyone who solves these will be in line for a Nobel Prize.’

Jake was diagnosed with Aspergers syndrome, a mild form of autism, from an early age.

His parents were worried when he didn’t talk until the age of two, suspecting he was educationally abnormal.

It was only as he began to grow up that they realised just how special his gift was.

He would fill up note pads of paper with drawings of complex geometrical shapes and calculations, before picking up felt tip pens and writing equations on windows.

By the age of three he was solving 5,000-piece puzzles and he even studied a state road map, reciting every highway and license plate prefix from memory.

By the age of eight he had left high school and was attending Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis advanced astrophysics classes.

The autistic savants, disabled geniuses, and feel-bad narratives fill our screens and influence our lives. We live in a culture that simultaneously pushes the narratives “I wish I was special like you” and “I would kill myself if I was like you.”

Both statements speak of an othering—specific to that strange, imagined idea of disability constructed by an able-bodied imagination: something special, magical, tragic. The common freak show rhetoric (the kind painted in big bold letters on faux vintage posters) refers to disabled bodies in fantastical terms: as mermaids and monsters. Empathy is difficult if the person in question is a fairytale creature or imaginary friend.

—  I talked about how grossed out I am by representations of disability in the media for the hairpin. i guess like as someone outside of both able bodied and allistic ideals im feeling kinda angsty or something! and I spoke to orangescarves about it too! yay! i get really anxious and terrified when pieces go up so def not checking comment section or anything but um just thought i’d leave this here!! XOX



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DIRECTOR: Kim Min-Soo and Kim Jin Woo

WRITER: Park Jae-Bum


An aspiring doctor saves a child’s life without a second thought, his brain is a medical encyclopedia, and he’s nothing short of a genius, but he’s autistic. Mentored by a prestigious doctor he’s given the opportunity to have a residency at the hospital where his mentor works. But the other doctors are skeptical…

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Brainman (2005) 45min

Entralled by Daniel Tammet’s exceptional brain, which makes him one of only about 50 such autistic savants living in the world today, scientists embark on a series of experiments testing the limits — or, as it turns out, the seeming limitlessness — of his cognitive prowess. The results are simply astounding. What makes Tammet so remarkable isn’t merely that he was able to learn Icelandic in a single week, or that he broke the European record by reciting the number pi up to the 22,514th digit, or that he has accute synesthesia. It’s that, despite the social paralysis of his condition, he is not only willing to be a public voice but also able to be an outstandingly eloquent one.

i’m autism-positive because autistic people who have savant skills that end up going into a field centered around that skill are LITERALLY going to break ground. an autistic child that spends a lot of their time building complex structures with blocks may revolutionize architecture some day. an autistic child that forgets to shower because they’re reading advanced books about animal anatomy may save your pet’s life someday.

do any basic research on autism and you’ll find that being on the autistic spectrum a) is not always a bad thing and b) is a lot more diverse than what you’ve seen in movies