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Amazing Feats of Autism: 9 Examples of Autistic Awesomeness!

There’s no other way to say it, but when your child is given a diagnosis of autism, it’s heartbreaking. It changes everything: how you raise him, teach him, and nurture him. But while some fall into the glass-half-empty, bummer-ness of the situation, others are lucky enough to have or find aspects of autism to celebrate. Some of these children with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) may just have been given the gift of an amazing, awesome talent and sensational skills that are completely unparalleled. They have what is referred to as “savant syndrome.”

When a child has a very fine-tuned ability for music, math, or the arts, these gifts are also known as “splinter skills.”  According to researchers, kids who display “a high level of ability that is in contrast to their disability” are referred to as “Talented Savants.” Then there are “Prodigious Savants,” a far rarer classification, “where the ability or brilliance is not only spectacular in contrast to the disability, but would be spectacular even if viewed in a non-disabled person.”

The New Scientist notes that the connection between autism and savantism remains mysterious. And while they may have challenges, these children and adults have inspiring talents that give hope to any parent of an autistic child. Yes, these savants are rare, but it can be reassuring to just know they exist and have such truly special gifts.

Here we celebrate nine amazing autistics who have done awesome feats. Check them out!

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  • Ethan Walmark — Pianist 1 of 9
    Ethan Walmark — Pianist
    Six-year-old Ethan Walmark became an overnight YouTube celebrity when a video of him playing a wonderful rendition of Billy Joel's "Piano Man" went viral. Four years ago Ethan was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, and as part of his therapy, he began to play the piano. As it turned out, he was good. Really good.
    Read more about Ethan right here

    Plus, check out his rendition of "Piano Man" below:

    Image Source: YouTube

  • Henriett Seth F. – Author, Painter, Musician 2 of 9
    Henriett Seth F. - Author, Painter, Musician
    Born in 1980, Fajcsák Henrietta is a Hungarian autistic savant who is a poet, writer, and an artist. She became world-famous for her book, Autizmussal önmagamba zárva (Closed into Myself with Autism). She was also an accomplished flutist (she retired at 13) and was known for her painting.
    Read more about Henriett Seth F. right here
    Image Source: Laisladelosgenios.blogspot.com
  • Matt Savage – Jazz Pianist 3 of 9
    Matt Savage - Jazz Pianist
    Matt showed amazing gifts at a very young age: He was walking early and was starting to read at 1 ½ years old. He was diagnosed with a form of autism called pervasive developmental disorder. When he was about six, he taught himself how to read music and began to study piano, starting with classical and then moving on to jazz. Matt now has several albums featuring his music. He has performed for heads of state and has appeared on David Letterman, Conan O'Brien, The Today Show, and All Thing Considered.
    Read more about Matt Savage here

    Plus, check out his piano playing below:

    Image Source: Savage Records

  • Jason McElwain – Basketball Player 4 of 9
    Jason McElwain - Basketball Player
    While many of the amazing feats of those diagnosed with autism seem to be artistic or academic, there are also physical triumphs. Jason McElwain made news years ago when he scored 20 points in the last four minutes of his high school's basketball game. Jason had an autistic fixation on basketball and reportedly would practice for hours by himself.

    You can check out his win below:

    Image Source: YouTube

  • Daniel Tammet – Genuis 5 of 9
    Daniel Tammet - Genuis
    Daniel Tammet also goes by the nickname "Brainman." He is considered to be — as The Telegraph notes — "1 of the 100 living geniuses in the world today." He penned a New York Times bestselling book entitled Born on a Blue Day about being an autistic savant. There was also a documentary about him (an award-winning one at that) called — aptly —Brainman. He has an amazing memory and is talented in math and linguistics and has shown off his skills on many television shows, from Good Morning America to David Letterman.



    Check out his TED speech below: <a href="">
    Image Source: YouTube

  • Thristan Mendoza — Marimba Player 6 of 9
    Thristan Mendoza — Marimba Player
    Thristan "Tum-Tum" Mendoza was born in 1989 in Quezon City, Philippines. He was diagnosed with autism at the age of 2½ . He began to play the marimba at the age of five, and as it turned out, had an innate talent for the instrument. Gigi Padilla — the editor of Mother's Magazine— said of him: "When I first heard Tum Tum Mendoza play his marimba, time stood still. All my thoughts stopped, and he just absorbed my attention completely. I marveled at how this child, whose parents were told not to expect anything from him, has now accomplished much more than any of us have."
    Read more about Thristan right here

    Check out Tum Tum playing below: Image Source: Perfectpitchpeople.com
  • Satoshi Tajiri — The Creator of Pokemon 7 of 9
    Satoshi Tajiri — The Creator of Pokemon
    While growing up, Satoshi Tajiri had an "autistic fixation" with bugs. And he took that obsession and turned it into a worldwide phenomenon in the form of Pokemon. He was diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome and has been described as being, "exceedingly creative but reclusive and eccentric."
  • Temple Grandin – Writer and Animal Scientist 8 of 9
    Temple Grandin - Writer and Animal Scientist
    The life of Temple Grandin recently become famous when HBO did a film based on her life (with Claire Danes starring as Grandin). Grandin is a high-functioning autistic who developed new ideas to change the cattle industry. She has a PhD and is a professor of Animal Science at the University of Northern Colorado. She is also known for her book, Thinking in Pictures.
    Image Source: Wikipedia
  • Jake Barnett – Math and Science Prodigy 9 of 9
    Jake Barnett - Math and Science Prodigy
    Earlier this year 60 Minutes profiled Jake Barnett. He was initially diagnosed at the age of two and is currently a sophomore in college — and this math and science prodigy is just 13 years old. He credits his autism as the "key to his success."
    Check out his profile on 60 Minutes right here
    Image Source: YouTube

Image: iStockphoto

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