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Islands of Genius

Islands of Genius

The Bountiful Mind of the Autistic, Acquired, and Sudden Savant

Darold A. Treffert

Quick Overview

In this fascinating book, Dr. Treffert looks at what we know about savant syndrome, and at new discoveries that raise interesting questions about the hidden brain potential 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.
Details Price Qty
2010, 9.69in x 6.81in / 246mm x 173mm, 328pp
ISBN: 978-1-84905-810-0
Paperback / softback
2011, 9.69in x 6.81in / 246mm x 173mm, 328pp
ISBN: 978-1-84905-873-5

Available as an ebook from these retailers. eISBN: 978-0-85700-318-8


*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.


'Darold Treffert is the uncontested doyen of the savant syndrome. Having worked on this fascinating topic for five decades, he sums up his vast experience in this volume, and moreover acts as a charming guide to a Who's Who of the most astounding savants. Above all, he generously shares his sense of wonder at the savant phenomenon.'
- Book News

'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. And when he writes of the "beautiful" mind of the savant, Treffert shows the openness and generosity of his own mind. Islands 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


Foreword by: Daniel Tammet
By (author): Darold A. Treffert