2 Feb 2016

Psychiatrist Darold Treffert on Savant syndrome

From Nine To Noon, 10:10 am on 2 February 2016
Psychiatrist, Darold Treffert

Psychiatrist, Darold Treffert Photo: the-art-of-autism.com

Psychiatrist, Darold Treffert has spent five decades studying people with autism and savant syndrome. He has written several definitive books on the topic, and was a consultant on the film Rain Man, featuring Dustin Hoffman as an autistic savant.

Dr Treffert says while most savants are born that way, some ordinary people have become savants after a head injury or stroke, which he says indicates a buried potential in all of us.

Dr Treffert works at St Agnes hospital in Wisconsin, which has just opened the Treffert Center to ensure his research continues

One of the savants Dr Treffert has looked at is New Zealander Jonathan Petty, who is blind and autistic but began displaying remarkable piano abilities from an early age - including being able to play any tune he has just heard.

Jonathan is now 27, this video was taken when he was about 3 years old:

Darold Treffert talked to Nine to Noon about his study of savant syndrome.