The rare, but spectacular, condition known as savant syndrome, in which persons with severe developmental disabilities, including autism, display remarkable islands of genius, will be the focus of a Lawrence University Science Hall Colloquium.
Dr. Darold Treffert, one of the world’s leading authorities on the condition, presents “Extraordinary People: Understanding Savant Syndrome,” Tuesday, April 8 at 4:15 p.m. in Youngchild Hall, Room 121. The event is free and open to the public.
Treffert’s address will profile several remarkable musical, artistic and mathematical savants, describe the hallmarks of this condition that reveal prodigious skills and remarkable memory, discuss the latest scientific findings that provide clues to the essential question “how do they do it?” and provide insights, based on recent discoveries, about the hidden potential that resides within everyone.
A consultant on the award-winning movie, “Rain Man,” which made “autistic savant” household words, Treffert has been studying savant syndrome for more than 40 years. He met his first savant his first day as a psychiatrist at the Winnebago Mental Health Institute in Oshkosh, where he was charged to develop a child-adolescent unit.
Treffert is the author of the 1989 book “Extraordinary People,” which has been translated and published in five countries and was reissued in 2000, and has discussed savant syndrome on an array of documentary and television programs, including “60 Minutes,” “Oprah,” “McNeil/Lehrer News Hour” and “The Today Show,” among others.
Treffert is a clinical professor in the department of psychiatry at the UW-Madison Medical School and also serves on the medical staff of St. Agnes Hospital in Fond du Lac.