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How common are genius-like abilities in people with autism?

William Stillman
Health Education Specialist

The movie Rain Man gave rise to the stereotype of the autistic savant—someone who, despite severe impairments, has a unique or extraordinary gift that awes and amazes others. In truth, we all possess certain gifts and talents that are (or can be cultivated to become) truly extraordinary achievements. It is no different in people with autism; it's just that when one appears to be extremely limited or lacking in intellectual capacity, those gifts seem magnified beyond that which is average.

Extra high intelligence is somewhat rare in people with autism. Less than 5 percent of persons with autism exhibit the genius-like abilities like Dustin Hoffman portrayed in Rain Man.

Source: Center for Autism & Related Disabilities (CARD)

Approximately 10 percent of individuals with autism have savant skills. These might include exceptional skills in reading, math, art, music, and more.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.