The Savant Registry — A Preliminary Report

Darold Treffert MD

Through my years of interest in savant syndrome, literally hundreds of cases have come to my attention through the savant syndrome website, professional and lay articles, books, videos and in-person interviews. In 2010, with the help of David Rebedew, a medical student on a summer research scholarship, approximately 367 such cases were entered into a savant syndrome registry that included the following information: name, address, date of birth, gender, ethnicity, type of ability and disability, congenital vs. acquired type, IQ and other testing, schooling, occupation (if applicable), treatment, progress, parental educational level and occupation, and other variables to the extent they were available from existing information. (So the ‘n’ was different for some of the variables.) If the sole ability consisted of synesthesia or hyperelexia, or if high intelligence, superior memory or any special abilities were present in the absence of any disability, such persons were excluded from the registry since savant syndrome, by definition, is a condition in which special skills, ability or memory are always grafted on to some underlying disability. By this process 48 cases were excluded, making the final sample 319 cases where at least some of the variables were present.

This is a preliminary report based on non-solicited and varied sources. As the next step in creating a more comprehensive and uniform savant syndrome registry, a more uniform, systematic and detailed follow-up 94-question online survey was created using SurveyGizmo Online Questionaire Software. This questionnaire will be sent to the parent, caregiver or savant himself or herself. From the responses, a larger and more detailed data set will be created for a more in-depth analysis.

Some interesting data in a very preliminary analysis of these 319 cases are summarized in the table below.

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