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

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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 REVIEWS

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