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Islands of Genius: The Bountiful Mind of the Autistic, Acquired, and Sudden Savant Paperback – November 15, 2011

ISBN-13: 978-1849058735 ISBN-10: 1849058733 Edition: Reprint

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Islands of Genius: The Bountiful Mind of the Autistic, Acquired, and Sudden Savant + Extraordinary People : Understanding Savant Syndrome + Born On A Blue Day: Inside the Extraordinary Mind of an Autistic Savant
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 302 pages
  • Publisher: Jessica Kingsley Publishers; Reprint edition (November 15, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1849058733
  • ISBN-13: 978-1849058735
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.8 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #441,952 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

*Gold Medal Winner in the Psychology / Mental Health Category of the 2011 IPPY Awards*Savant syndrome is a rare condition in which individuals with developmental disorders, including autism spectrum disorders, have one or more areas of expertise, ability, or brilliance - "islands of genius" - that exist in contrast with their overall limitations. In this fascinating book, Dr. Darold Treffert looks at what we know about this remarkable condition, and at new discoveries that raise interesting questions about the hidden brain potential within us all. Dr. Treffert explores the phenomena of genetic memory - instances in which individuals somehow "know" things they never learned - and sudden genius or "acquired savantism" - where a neuro-typical person unexpectedly and spectacularly develops savant-like abilities following a head injury or stroke. Showing that these phenomena point convincingly towards a reservoir of untapped potential - an inner savant capacity - within us all, he looks both at how savant skills can be nurtured, and how they can help the person who has them, particularly if that person is on the autism spectrum. A central colour section contains the extraordinary artwork of some of the savants who are mentioned in the book. Islands of Genius will intrigue anyone who has ever wondered what makes the mind of a savant tick, as well as clinicians, parents, teachers, therapists, and others who care for, and about, individuals with savant syndrome.

'This is a beautifully written, inspiring and fascinating book by the man who probably knows more than anyone else about savant syndrome - the rare condition in which some individuals with disorders such as autism have one or more areas of ability or brilliance: ''islands of genius''.'- Human Givens'This reviewer has had a great experience by reading this book and recommend it warmly to all colleagues.'- Journal of the Norwegian Medical Association (translated from the Norwegian)`Walk through a bookstore or library these days, and you'll find several dozen books on the workings of your brain. I believe, though, that this one is quite likely the most intriguing of all. Using case studies, reader-friendly medicine, and contagious curiosity, Treffert leads his readers on a tour of one facet of brain science that even Hollywood seems taken with, but about which few books are written...Armchair scientists, parents, educators, and anybody with an interest in brain works will find "Islands of Genius" fascinating and fresh. For you, savoring this book is a true no-brainer.`- Washington Informer"No one in the world can match Darold Treffert's experience and understanding of savant syndromes - he has spent nearly half a century immersed in the subject.aAnd when he writes of the "beautiful" mind of the savant, Treffert shows the openness and generosity of his own mind.aIslands of Genius brings us fully up to date with the latest research, and like all of Treffert's work, it is imbued with deep intellectual and emotional understanding. This is an indispensable examination of a remarkable human condition."- Oliver Sacks, Professor of Neurology & Psychiatry, Columbia University Medical Center"This book takes you on a wondrous journey through the mind of savants. Their abilities need to be nurtured and developed. Everyone who is interested in the human mind should read this important book."- Temple Grandin, author of Thinking in Pictures"Few people would or should want to learn to recite Pi to 22,514 decimal places, draw landmarks in breathtaking detail, or remember the contents of 12,000 books. Everyone is different. By refusing to gawp at these feats, preferring instead to focus on the person behind them, Dr Treffert sends out the message that it is the creative, imaginative processes at the root of such abilities that matter most. Only by considering the context of savants' lives can we more fully and properly understand the gifts that they possess."- from the foreword by Daniel Tammet, author of Born On A Blue Day

About the Author

Darold A. Treffert, M.D. is Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine. He has worked with savants and researched this rare condition for nearly 50 years, and was a consultant on the award-winning movie Rain Man in which Dustin Hoffman plays the part of an autistic savant. Kim Peek - the inspiration for the film - is just one of the extraordinary individuals Dr. Treffert introduces us to in the book

Customer Reviews

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I found the book quite informative and well worth reading.
Erika Mitchell
Some of the stories are so filled with the love and support the families offer, that it warms the heart.
K.Wagner
What Dr. Treffert does primarily in "Islands of Genius" is explore the world of savants.
Sunday

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Erika Mitchell TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 14, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This book is a collection of information about savants. Darold Treffert first encountered savants in the early 1960s when he started working with mentally disabled children at the Winnebago Mental Health Institute. Of the 30 patients assigned to him, 4 of them had remarkable abilities in contrast to their general developmental limitations. Treffert developed a deep interest in savant syndrome and became one of the world's leading experts on the topic. In this book, Treffert presents a collection of information about savant syndrome, describing the nature of special and preserved ability amongst brain-damaged individuals. The book is divided into 5 sections: The Mind of the Savant (technical descriptions of savant syndrome), The World of the Savant (profiles of famous savants), Significant New Dimensions to Savant Syndrome (acquired savant skills and savant-like skills in neurotypical individuals), Training the Talent (pedagogical techniques for savants--essays contributed by other authors), and Our Journey Has Just Begun (future research concerning savant skills). The book includes a selection of photos depicting artwork done by savants, a list of references cited, and a list of resources for further reading.

I found the book quite informative and well worth reading. Treffert makes it very clear that savant skills are most commonly found with autistic individuals, but only one in 10 autistic individuals has some savant skills, and people with other types of developmental disabilities can also have savant skills. Not only that, but savant skills may occasionally appear after head injuries; they may even appear spontaneously in neurotypical individuals without injuries.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Liberty4all VINE VOICE on April 12, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I need to preface this review by pointing out that the copy of Islands I read was marked as a "Bound Galley-Not for Sale". I hope that marking indicates that the manuscript will still be edited prior to being released to the public because it desperately needs major attention by a competent editor.

The subject matter is fascinating and the author is clearly an authority on savant syndrome and autism. However, not only is the writing a bit flat, but there is a tremendous amount of repetition. At times it feels like the author took a break in writing for a few months and then started again while forgetting he had already used certain phrases and/or told certain stories or specific history. As a result, you feel like you're watching a movie that you've already seen a few times and one in which the dialog was not that scintillating the first time around.

It's near impossible to guess at how this book will read once an editor restructures it but it does have enough potential to get to four or even five stars with the proper care.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Sunday VINE VOICE on August 16, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
After reading an uncorrected proof copy of "Islands of Genius" three times, I went to my local library to request they get a copy of the book. All public libraries should have a copy of this book. Because it is an education. It is also an inspiration. And it is one of the most fascinating books I have ever, ever read.

What Dr. Treffert does primarily in "Islands of Genius" is explore the world of savants. He has worked with and researched servants since 1962. Not only does he share his 48 years of interaction, observations and research with the reader, he also tells the individual stories of over 15 well known savants--including Kim Peek, who was the inspiration for the "Rain Man". (The book is dedicated to Kim Peek, who died last December, and his father, Fran Peek.) Moreover, there are three chapters in the book written by teachers of special needs children, describing their methods for teaching art, music and math. Also, there is an appendix listing 15 books about savant syndrome and specific savants, as well as 11 books written by savants.

Next, Dr. Treffert explores acquired savant behavior, sudden savant behavior, and "neurotypical persons with savant-like skills". I must confess, I found those topics even more interesting than the savants! Individuals who acquire savant like behavior do so after an illness or injury that affects the central nervous system. He tells the story of a 10-year-old boy hit in the head by a baseball, who wakes up knowing how to perform calendar calculations. (If you don't know what calendar calculation is, as I did not, you are in for a wild read!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Chris VINE VOICE on May 25, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The savant condition has always fascinated me and this book is wonderful. It explains many of the aspects of the savant, including sudden and acquired conditions. The author has done a terrific job of explaining and chronicling his work with uplifting stories of the different savants he has dealt with. The book is long but lends itself to being read in segments, picking it up at different times and reading one or more of the chapters. I would recommend this book to anyone who has ever wondered or was curious about the savant condition. They really are amazing people with diverse and exceptional talents.
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