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Talents and preoccupations in idiots-savants

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  09 July 2009

Neil O'Connor*
MRC Developmental Psychology Project, Institute of Education, University of London
Beate Hermelin
MRC Developmental Psychology Project, Institute of Education, University of London
1Address for correspondence: Dr Neil O'Connor, MRC Developmental Psychology Project, University of London, Institute of Education, 18 Woburn Square, London WC1N 0NS.


The question was asked whether a diagnosis of autism or a tendency to repetitive behaviour and preoccupation with a restricted area of interest, were crucial features of idiot-savant talents. Answers by caretakers to a questionnaire on these topics revealed that autistic and non-autistic savants resembled each other closely in preoccupation but differed from controls matched for IQ and diagnosis. In addition, the mentally handicapped showed fewer repetitive tendencies than did autistic controls. It is concluded that independent of diagnosis, preoccupations and repetitive behaviour appear to be closely associated with the manifestation of idiot-savant talents.

Original Articles
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1991

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