Born on a Blue Day: Inside the Extraordinary Mind of an Autistic Savant Paperback – Oct 16 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
This unique first-person account offers a window into the mind of a high-functioning, 27-year-old British autistic savant with Asperger's syndrome. Tammet's ability to think abstractly, deviate from routine, and empathize, interact and communicate with others is impaired, yet he's capable of incredible feats of memorization and mental calculation. Besides being able to effortlessly multiply and divide huge sums in his head with the speed and accuracy of a computer, Tammet, the subject of the 2005 documentary Brainman, learned Icelandic in a single week and recited the number pi up to the 22,514th digit, breaking the European record. He also experiences synesthesia, an unusual neurological syndrome that enables him to experience numbers and words as "shapes, colors, textures and motions." Tammet traces his life from a frustrating, withdrawn childhood and adolescence to his adult achievements, which include teaching in Lithuania, achieving financial independence with an educational Web site and sustaining a long-term romantic relationship. As one of only about 50 people living today with synesthesia and autism, Tammet's condition is intriguing to researchers; his ability to express himself clearly and with a surprisingly engaging tone (given his symptoms) makes for an account that will intrigue others as well. (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
*Starred Review* Although Tammet is only 27, his autobiography is as fascinating as Benjamin Franklin's and John Stuart Mill's, both of which are, like his, about the growth of a mind. Not that Tammet is a scientist-statesman or philosopher. He is an autistic savant who can perform hefty arithmetical calculations at lightning speed and acquire speaking competency in a previously unknown language in mere days (the latter capability he used to create the Web-based language-learning systems with which he supports himself). More socially competent and independent than the autistic savant famously played by Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man, Tammet shares his peers' strong preferences for routine, peace and quiet, private space, and literalness, as well as aversion to chance occurrences, aural and informational noise, and figurative language (despite his arithmetical gift, he can't do algebra; he reads a lot but never fiction). He learned fellowship very gradually and says he couldn't really acknowledge his eight siblings until he grew up. He also writes some of the clearest prose this side of Hemingway; he tells his story with such concentration, precision, and simplicity that his familial poverty, schooling as a "mainstreamed" student, self-realization as gay, and embracing of Christianity prove as enthralling as they are, ultimately, normal. Ray Olson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
"I have a rare condition known as savant syndrome...Like most individuals with savant syndrome, I am also on the autistic spectrum...By writing about my own experiences of growing up on the autistic spectrum, it is my hope that I can help other...people living with high-functioning autism...to feel less isolated and to have confidence in the knowledge that it is ultimately possible to lead a happy and productive life."
The above is found at the beginning of this unique book by Daniel Tammet who is a British high-functioning autistic savant.
Savant syndrome or savantism is a rare condition in which persons with developmental disorders (including autism spectrum disorders, ASD) have one or more areas of expertise, ability, or brilliance that contrasts with the person's overall limitations. It can be either genetic or acquired. (ASD are widespread abnormalities of social interactions and communication, as well as restricted interests and repetitive, orderly behaviour.)
This book is a memoir or essentially an autobiography. Tammet talks about how Asperger's syndrome (a high-functioning form of autism), epilepsy (neurological condition characterized by recurrent, unprovoked seizures), & synaesthesia (he sees numbers & letters in colour and associates numbers with emotions, shapes, and textures) deeply affected his childhood and, despite having these problems, how he was eventually able to lead a happy and productive life.
The last few chapters of the book chronicle what Tammet's mental abilities have enabled him to do. For example, he recited Pi (3.14...) to over 22,500 digits (setting a British record) and was able to learn Icelandic (a very difficult language) in one week.Read more ›
What is particularly wonderful about this book is that Daniel is able to write so clearly of the way in which he experiences the world. He may have some of the isolating features of autism, but he is able to write about his perceptions of the world in a way which those of us who are not autistic can understand.
Daniel's particular form of autism is combined with synaesthesia, an unusual ability to see numbers, words and letters as shapes and colours, sometimes involving motion and texture. This enhances Daniel's capacity for recognising particular patterns and has enabled his ability to learn languages as well as to memorise pi to 22,514 decimal places.
Speaking of this achievement, Daniel writes:
`Why learn a number like pi to so many decimal places? The answer I gave then as I do now is that pi is for me an extremely beautiful and utterly unique thing. Like the Mona Lisa or a Mozart symphony, pi is its own reason for loving it.'
Daniel is an autistic savant, and displays extraordinary capabilities in relation to memory, calculation and language. He can undertake very large calculations in his head, and is also able to learn to fluently speak a language (even one as challenging as Icelandic) in a week.
`The relationship I have with a language is quite an aesthetic one, with certain words and combinations of words being particularly beautiful and stimulating to me.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
This is a beautifully written book which provides insight into the mind of an autistic savant. I have bought this book for numerous people as it was so informative and... Read morePublished 2 months ago by N. McKay
If you know anyone with aspergers, a must read! It solves the mystery inside the puzzle. It unravels the conundrum. Read morePublished 14 months ago by Gail Knutson