Encyclopedia of Autism Spectrum Disorders

Living Edition
| Editors: Fred R. Volkmar

Savant Syndrome

Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-6435-8_102323-1


Savant syndrome is a disorder characterized by a niche area of immense talent that contrasts with a general intellectual impairment. Many people with savant syndrome also have autism. The condition is rare, but because of the striking skills that some savants have, it has captured the attention of the general public and researchers. Savant talents vary from exceptional mathematical abilities, to prodigious musical skills, to extraordinary artistic talent.

Historical Background

The first documented case of savant syndrome appeared in the literature in the late eighteenth century. In 1887, Dr. J. Langdon Down, well-known for his identification of Down’s syndrome, described savant syndrome as its own condition. In his lectures he described ten different cases that had been identified (Treffert 2014). Until several decades ago, savants were called “idiot savants.” This title is not only jarring to the modern ear, but entirely inaccurate. “Idiot” was formerly used to describe...

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References and Readings

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Yale UniversityNew HavenUSA