AUTISM, FAMOUS AUTISTIC SAVANTS, RAIN MAN AND THOMAS BETHUNE

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RAIN MAN, the movie won four Oscars for the depiction of a greedy, selfish, upwardly mobile (Yuppy), Charlie, whose business life is spinning out of control and his dead father’s large fortune is just the ticket he needs to turn things around.  The only problem is, his older brother, Ray, the one he vaguely remembers, who happens to be mentally and emotionally challenged.  The yuppy discovers his brother has a way with numbers and statistics, a phenomenal, extraordinary way with numbers and decides that skill could be used to his benefit, especially since their father left the fortune to Ray.

The real life Rain Man was Kim Peek. He performed poorly on standardized tests, scoring below average, but he was discovered to possess a photographic memory.  Unlike the character in the movie “…Babbitt, Peek was not autistic[4] and likely had FG syndrome.” (Wikepedia: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kim_Peek)

The great classical music slave prodigy, Thomas Bethune, was indeed autistic and much like the fictional character Ray, was left alone, thought to be worthless, yet turned out to be a diamond in the ruff for his master Colonel James Bethune.  Given the stage name “Blind Tom,” Thomas was socially awkward at times, but extremely confident, if not arrogant when it came to his musical genius.  He reportedly enjoyed the positive attention he received from performing and demanded perfection when it came to his pianos as well as the musicians who joined him on stage.

Other Famous autistic savants, as listed in Wikepedia

Alonzo Clemons, American clay sculptor [31]
Tony DeBlois, blind American musician [32]
Leslie Lemke, blind American musician [33]
Jonathan Lerman, American artist [34]
Thristan Mendoza, Filipino marimba prodigy [35]
Jerry Newport is an author, savant, and has Asperger’s. His wife, Mary Newport, is also a savant on the autistic spectrum [36]
Derek Paravicini, blind British musician [37]
James Henry Pullen, gifted British carpenter [38]
Matt Savage, U.S. autistic jazz prodigy [39]
Henriett Seth-F., Hungarian autistic savant, poet, writer and artist

AUTISM, THOMAS JEFFERSON PASSIONATE MUSIC ENTHUSIAST, AUTISTIC LIKE THOMAS BETHUNE

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Thomas Jefferson enjoyed high classical musical fair, which included Haydn, Bach, and Mozart.  Based on historical facts regarding his interests and beliefs, he would have certainly been fascinated by Thomas Bethune:

c.1781. (Notes on the State of Virginia) “In music they [blacks] are more generally gifted than the whites with accurate ears for tune and time, and they have been found capable of imagining a small catch. Whether they will be equal to the composition of a more extensive run of melody, or of complicated harmony, is yet to be proved.”[7] http://www.monticello.org/site/jefferson/quotations-music

According to historians, Thomas Jefferson had a passion for the arts, architecture and music in particular.  However, according to his granddaughter, his own musical abilities were modest.  (From baroquemusic.org) “Mr. Jefferson played I believe very well indeed, but not so well as to stand comparison with many other persons . . . No amateur violinist could hope to equal a professor.” Thus Ellen Randolph Coolidge described the technical skill of “dear Grandpapa,” whom she adored.

But, was Thomas Jefferson – the President of the United

States, moneyed, a man of intellect, a perfectionist,

author of the Declaration of Independence, polished

pianist – also autistic? Other historical figures

sometimes considered autistic.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Famous historical people have been speculated to have had autism or other autism spectrum disorders such as Asperger syndrome by journalists, academics and autism professionals. Such speculation is controversial and little of it is undisputed. For example, several autism researchers speculate that Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart had autism and other conditions, while other researchers say there is not sufficient evidence to draw conclusions that he had any such conditions.[1]

Contents

Controversial speculation

Speculative claims that historical figures displayed behaviors associated with autism spectrum disorders include people who died before the work done by Hans Asperger and Leo Kanner in classifying autism spectrum conditions was completed. Autism has only been recognized since the 1940s, so many earlier cases may have gone undiagnosed.[2] Speculation about their diagnoses is based on reported behaviors rather than any clinical observation of the individual. Fred Volkmar, a psychiatrist and autism expert and director of the Yale Child Study Center says, “There is unfortunately a sort of cottage industry of finding that everyone has Asperger’s.”[3]

Michael Fitzgerald, of the Department of Child Psychiatry at Trinity College, Dublin, has speculated about historical figures with autism in numerous journal papers and at least three books: The Genesis of Artistic Creativity: Asperger’s Syndrome and the Arts,[4] Unstoppable Brilliance: Irish Geniuses and Asperger’s Syndrome[5] and Autism and Creativity, Is there a link between autism in men and exceptional ability?[6]

List

Person Speculator
Hans Christian Andersen – author Michael Fitzgerald[4]
Béla Bartók – 20th century Hungarian composer Ioan James;[7] Oliver Sacks says the evidence seems “very thin at best”.[8]
Hugh Blair of Borgue – 18th century Scottish landowner thought mentally incompetent, now studied as case history of autism. Rab Houston and Uta Frith[9] Wolff calls the evidence “convincing”.[10]
Lewis Carroll – writer, logician Michael Fitzgerald[4][6][11]
Henry Cavendish – 18th century British scientist. He was unusually reclusive, literal minded, had trouble relating to people, had trouble adapting to people, difficulties looking straight at people, drawn to patterns, etc. Oliver Sacks,[3][8] and Ioan James;[2][7] Fred Volkmar of Yale Study Child Center is skeptical.[3]
Charles XII of Sweden – speculated to have had Asperger syndrome Swedish researchers, Gillberg[12] and Lagerkvist[13]
Jeffrey Dahmerserial killer Silva, et al.[14][15]
Anne Claudine d’Arpajon, comtesse de Noailles – French governess, lady of honor, tutor Society for French Historical Studies, New York Times[6]
Charles Darwin – naturalist, associated with the theory of evolution by natural selection Michael Fitzgerald[11]
Emily Dickinson – poet Vernon Smith[6]
Éamon de Valera – Irish revolutionary and politician Michael Fitzgerald[4][16]
Paul Dirac – British mathematician and physicist. He was Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge University, 1933–1963 and a Fellow of St John’s College. Awarded the 1933 Nobel Prize in Physics for his work on the mathematical foundations of Quantum Mechanics. Ioan James[2] and Graham Farmelo[17]
Albert Einstein – physicist See analysis below
Janet Frame – New Zealand author Sarah Abrahamson;[18] this suggestion has been the subject of some controversy.[19][not in citation given][20]
Glenn Gould – Canadian pianist and noted Bach interpreter. He liked routine to the point he used the same seat until it was worn through. He also disliked social functions to the point that in later life he relied on the telephone or letters for virtually all communication. He had an aversion to being touched, had a different sense of hot or cold than most, and would rock back and forth while playing music. He is speculated to have had Asperger syndrome. Michael Fitzgerald,[4] Ioan James,[7] Tony Attwood,[21] and NPR[22]
Adolf Hitler – Austrian born, Nazi German politician, chancellor and dictator Michael Fitzgerald[6] and Andreas Fries;[23] although others disagree and say that there is not sufficient evidence to indicate any diagnoses for Hitler.[24]
Thomas Jefferson – US President Norm Ledgin[25] Tony Attwood,[21] and Ioan James[7]
Keith Joseph – father of Thatcherism Michael Fitzgerald[4][16]
James Joyce – author of Ulysses Michael Fitzgerald and Antionette Walker;[5] this theory has been called “a somewhat odd hypothesis”.[26]
Stanley Kubrick – filmmaker Michael Fitzgerald[27]
William McGonagall – poet, notoriously bad yet he never understood that others mocked him Norman Watson[28]
MichelangeloItalian Renaissance artist, based on his inability to form long-term attachments and certain other characteristics Arshad and Fitzgerald;[4][29][30] Ioan James also discussed Michelangelo’s autistic traits.[7]
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – composer Tony Attwood[21] and Michael Fitzgerald;[4] others disagree that there is sufficient evidence to indicate any diagnoses for Mozart.[1]
Isaac Newton See analysis below
Moe Norman – Canadian golfer USA Today[31]
George Orwell – writer speculated to have had Asperger Syndrome. His troubled life went along with social interaction problems. Towards the end of his life he wrote a bitter polemic on his preparatory boarding school “Such, Such Were the Joys” which displays many of the characteristics of Asperger’s and interpersonal relationships. Orwell knew this intensely personal account was libellous and biographers have found it a challenge to explain its conflict with the truth, but Orwell still felt it important to publish this account eventually. Michael Fitzgerald[4][16]
Enoch Powell – British politician Michael Fitzgerald[4][16]
Srinivasa Ramanujan – mathematician Ioan James[7] and Michael Fitzgerald[32]
Charles Richterseismologist, creator of the eponymous scale of earthquake magnitude Susan Hough in her biography of Richter[33]
Erik Satie – composer Ioan James[7] and Michael Fitzgerald[4]
Jonathan Swift – author Ioan James[7] and Michael Fitzgerald[4]
Nikola Tesla See analysis below
Alan Turing – pioneer of computer sciences. He seemed to be a math savant and his lifestyle has many autism traits about it. Tony Attwood[21] and Ioan James[7]
Michael Ventris – English architect who deciphered Linear B Simon Baron-Cohen[34]
Andy Warhol – American artist Michael Fitzgerald[4][35] and Ioan James[7]
Blind Tom Wiggins – autistic savant Oliver Sacks[36]
Ludwig Wittgenstein – Austrian philosopher Michael Fitzgerald[37] Tony Attwood,[21] and Ioan James;[7] But Oliver Sacks seems to disagree.[8]
W. B. Yeats – poet and dramatist Michael Fitzgerald[4][16]

Einstein, Tesla and Newton

It has been speculated that Isaac Newton had what is now considered Asperger syndrome.

It has been speculated that Albert Einstein was on what is now considered the autism spectrum.

Albert Einstein (1879–1955), Nikola Tesla (1856-1943) and Isaac Newton (1643–1727) all died before Asperger syndrome became known, but Ioan James,[2] Michael Fitzgerald,[16] and Simon Baron-Cohen[38] believe their personalities are consistent with those of people with Asperger syndrome; Tony Attwood has also named Einstein as a likely case of mild autism.[21]

Newton, when he was 50, suffered a nervous breakdown involving depression and paranoia. After Newton’s death however, his body was found to contain massive amounts of mercury, probably from his alchemical pursuits, which could have accounted for his eccentricity in later life.[39]

Tesla was able to mentally picture very detailed mechanisms; spoke 8 languages; was never married; was very sensitive to touch and had an acute sense of hearing and sight; was obsessed with the number three; was disgusted by jewelery and overweight people and also had several eating compulsions [40] [41].

In her 1995 book In a World of His Own: A Storybook About Albert Einstein, author Illana Katz notes that Einstein “was a loner, solitary, suffered from major tantrums, had no friends and didn’t like being in crowds”.[42]

Arguments against

Despite having a lot of savant-like abilities, Nikola Tesla is more likely to have had some form of OCD.

The evidence that any one of them had autism “seems very thin at best”.[8] Glen Elliott, a psychiatrist at the University of California at San Francisco, is unconvinced that either of the scientists had Asperger syndrome, particularly due to the unreliability of diagnoses based on biographical information. Elliot stated that there are a variety of causes that could explain the behaviour of interest, adding that Einstein had a good sense of humour, a trait [stereotypically] uncommon among those with Asperger syndrome.[38] Tesla was more commonly assumed to have suffered from some form of OCD, which is not related to the autism spectrum disorders. There is no indication that Tesla had a late onset of speech or other disabilities during childhood.

AUTISM, MOZART, EINSTEIN, AND THOMAS BETHUNE

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WAS EINSTEIN AUTISTIC LIKE THE SLAVE PRODIGY THOMAS BETHUNE?

A very interesting article published in 2008 at http://www.telegraph.co.uk suggests some of the brightest and most creative minds in human history were held by individuals with autism…Read the article below:

Many leading figures in the fields of science, politics and the arts have achieved success because they had autism, a leading psychiatrist has claimed.

Michael Fitzgerald, Professor of Psychiatry at Trinity College, Dublin, argued the characteristics linked to autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) were the same as those associated with creative genius.

Prof Fitzgerald cited Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein, George Orwell, H G Wells and Ludwig Wittgenstein as examples of famous and brilliant individuals who showed signs of ASDs including Asperger syndrome.

Beethoven, Mozart, Hans Christian Andersen and Immanuel Kant have also received post mortem diagnoses of Asperger’s.

Speaking at a Royal College of Psychiatrists’ Academic Psychiatry conference in London, Prof Fitzgerald said argued the link between ASD’s, creativity and genius were caused by common genetic causes.

“Psychiatric disorders can also have positive dimensions. I’m arguing the genes for autism/Asperger’s, and creativity are essentially the same.

“We don’t know which genes they are yet or how many there are, but we are talking about multiple genes of small effect. Every case is unique because people have varying numbers of the genes involved.

“These produce people who are highly focused, don’t fit into the school system, and who often have poor social relationships and eye contact. They can be quite paranoid and oppositional, and usually highly moral and ethical.

“They can persist with a topic for 20-30 years without being distracted by what other people think. And they can produce in one lifetime the work of three or four other people.”

Prof Fitzgerald said traits such as a need to be dominant and in control and autistic repetitiveness were critical to the success of politicians such as Charles de Gaulle, who famously said “I am France”, US president Thomas Jefferson and Enoch Powell.

Another example he said was science fiction writer H G Wells, whom he described as socially insecure, controlling, lonely, cruel and emotionally immature.

Prof Fitzgerald reached his conclusion after comparing the characteristics of around 1,600 people he has diagnosed with ASDs and the known biographical details of famous people.

He said Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein demonstrated how many with Asperger’s traits could work for long periods on topics without taking note of others’ views.

Isaac Newton, he said, was known to work non-stop for three days without recognising day or night, often forgetting to eat, and Einstein worked in a patent office because he was too disruptive to get a university job.

Prof Fitzgerald’s book “Genius Genes: How Asperger Talents Changed the World” was published at the end of last year,

Estimates of the prevalence of ASDs in the general population vary widely from 60-120 cases per 10,000 people.

Amanda Batten, of the National Autistic Society said: “It is important to avoid stereotypes of people with autism as geniuses or otherwise, as everyone has individual character traits, strengths and needs.

“These might include attention to detail and the ability to pursue something for long periods of time, however apparent ability in some areas may lead people to underestimate the challenges individuals face in other parts of their lives.”

EIGHTH WONDER THE NOVEL EXCERPT SIGNING, RENTON WA

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THANK YOU, Seattle!

The turnout at the newly remodeled Renton Holiday Inn was absolutely incredible at the premier of “I Will Never Breath The Same As Yesterday,” the self-published novel of first-time author Stacey Willis, where I was invited as the celebrity guest speaker.  I shared my writing experiences as a former L.A. Times journalist, my experiences in Hollywood, getting my start by Producing B-movies to writing for Showtime Inc., Tyler Perry’s House of Payne  and “Meet the Browns,” as well as my upcoming t.v. shows “A Different Kind of Family” and the one hour drama “Boyz N Blue.”  In addition, I explained how I came to discover the genius slave prodigy and classical pianist Thomas Bethune while researching prodigies for my thesis in graduate school.

I signed stacks upon stacks of excerpts of EIGHTH WONDER.  The hotel room was packed to capacity!  The photo below was taken before the start.

Daria, sissy, Cal set up and manned the table.

The greatest part was seeing a room filled with many familiar faces from as far back as elementary school! More Pictures and video from the event will be forthcoming!

I want to thank you Stacy Willis for inviting me out to speak.  Thank you to Eugene Sarigumba, the cinematographer for the event.  Thank you to the WONDERFUL musicians, led by Eldgridge.  It was an extremely classy and wonderful affair.

A great launching pad for the novel EIGHTH WONDER. I will be attending additional excerpt signings in the Seattle area, at bookstores, the Fairmont hotel downtown, and a few coffee shops over the next few months. I am grateful to my birth city for all your support!

A.M. Cal

Here’s a couple of trailers for one of the multimillion dollar movies I Produced, 7eventy-5ive (Sci Fi Channel), starring Rutger Hauer (Batman, Blade Runner)

My first and last scary movie.

My credit comes at 1:14