Prodigies are hard to come by, but they are praised for the talents when they are discovered, like mental calculators or mastering the piano by fifth grade. There have been multiple studies on children prodigies and comparing their behavior to autism symptoms. These studies have concluded in multiple similarities between prodigy-like behavior and children with ASD.
In 2015, a study took place that focused on how prodigies with remarkable memories had similar working memory characteristics to children with ASD. The study was conducted by Dr. Leo Kanner, a scientist that is recognized as one of the identifiers of Autism in the 1940’s Kanner examined eight prodigies, all of whom scored in the 99th percentile in working memories.
Kanner’s study concluded that extraordinary memory is common in both prodigies and children with Autism. Kanner studied children with ASD and they were able to memorize and recite “an inordinate number of nursery rhymes, prayers, lists of animals, the roster of presidents, the alphabet forward and backward.”
Another study on the working memory of children on the Autism Spectrum was held in 2015, where over 200 participants with ASD had remarkable memories, as noted in The Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.
Other past studies have concluded that prodigies and children with ASD have highly passionate feelings towards specific interests, as well as detail-oriented eyes. Child prodigies are also known to have a relative on the spectrum.
The most noted result of these studies is the fact that both children with ASD and child prodigies have mutations on the Chromosome 1 and it’s short arm, which was not seen in neurotypical relatives.
These studies stress the fact that these similarities do not mean that all children with ASD are prodigies, but prove that ASD symptoms are similar to the behavior of child prodigies.
For more information, visit The New York Times.