New Studies Show Possible Link Between Autism and Prodigy. Many of us have heard the stories about how Einstein, Newton, and quite a few other historic geniuses of science and arts, showed signs of Autism. But could Autism and being a prodigy actually be link?
Joanne Ruthsatz and Kimberly Stephens study the possibility in their book The Prodigy’s Cousin. The book discusses the link between a 6-year-old music genius and his teenage autistic cousin, and explores he scientific and historic evidence that can help shed light on this phenomenon.
After studying the notes of geneticists, neuroscientists, and autism researchers, such as Hans Asperger, the two writers found sparse but unnerving relations. They realised that while such evidence on the link between prodigy and autism needs to be replicated to be studied more intently, the link – if found – would greatly illuminate us on two of the most baffling and ambiguous disorders in the world.
This book also discusses several cases of autistic prodigies such as Jourdan, who interned at Cold Spring Harbor Lab at age 9; Autumn, who is a self-taught painter and debuted her first solo exhibition at age 10; and Jacob, who participated in an astronomy lecture at age 3 and was an official college student at 11.
Despite the lack of evidence, the study and the anecdotes give us the promise for a really captivating book!
An earlier study found another profound link between autism and prodigy. The prodigies included in the study are all famous having achieved acclaim and professional status in their fields by the ripe age of 10. Most are musical prodigies; one is an artist and another a math whiz, who developed a new discipline in mathematics and, by age 13, had had a paper accepted for publication in a mathematics journal.
The study found a few key characteristics these youngsters had in common. For one, they all had exceptional working memories. The capacity of working memory is limited: for numbers, for example, most people can hold seven digits at a time on average; hence, the seven-digit phone number. But prodigies can hold much more, and not only can they remember extraordinarily large numbers, they can also manipulate them and carry out calculations that you or I might have trouble managing with pencil and paper.