25 Amazing Savant Minds

Posted by on November 21, 2014

Savants, those legendary masters of mental mayhem. They are blessed with an oasis of talent in a desert of disability and ineptitude. Although they could probably tell you how many thread are in their shoelaces, tying them together would be an almost impossible task. Although savant syndrome is not an officially recognized medical disorder it is perhaps one of the least understood and scientists are still trying to figure out what is going on in the minds of the these amazing savants.


Jedediah Buxton


Jedediah was a mathematical monster. Born in Derbyshire, England he was never properly educated but boy could he count. It has been reported that he once measured the entire Lordship of Elmton simply by walking across the grounds. And not only did he give the measurement in acres (of which there were about one thousand), he gave it in square inches. He was so good with numbers in fact, that he had to invent names for them because no one else had ever found a use for such large quantities. In Jedediah’s head a “tribe” was the cube of a million and a “tramp”, well, that was a thousand tribes of tribes.


Orlando Serrell


A very rare example of an “acquired savant”, Orlando began to exhibit his skills after being hit by a baseball on the side of the head at the age of ten. He soon came to realize that he could perform very complicated calendar calculations and he has been able to remember the weather of every single day since the accident.


Rüdiger Gamm


Although not technically a savant because he understands the mechanics of the math behind his calculations, this German born math prodigy is about as close as you can get to savanthood without actually stepping through the door. Despite the fact that his mental abilities didn’t develop until after he turned 21, Rudiger can do ridiculously complex math problems in his head and strangely enough, he can speak backwards fluently.


Jerry and Mary Newport


The couple whose lives were the basis for the 2005 film “Mozart and the Whale” they are both highly functional savants living with Asperger’s Syndrome. Jerry has been labeled the world’s “most versatile calculator” and Mary has a talent for art and piano.


Thristan Mendoza


Nicknamed Tum-Tum, Thristan was born in Quezon City in the Philippines and as soon as he was old enough to a drop a beat he has been amazing the world with his incredible percussive talents. Having begun at the age of two he has since been dubbed a “marimba prodigy”.


Tommy McHugh


Although Tommy is not really considered a savant in the classic sense, he comes awfully close. An Irish ex-con with a taste for violence he had a brain aneurysm one night and after the doctors managed to save his life he came back to the world with an insane desire to paint. Although he may not be the next Picasso, it’s not his talent that is so amazing, but rather his drive. In fact, it would be hard to accuse him of not making the most of his available space as he fills even his ceilings with his work.


Temple Grandin

Steve Jurvetson

A doctor of animal science and a professor at Colorado State University, Temple is a highly functional autistic savant who was featured in Time 100 Most Influential People in 2010. She has used her savant skills and superhuman eye for detail to help design more human animal-handling equipment and she has worked extensively with the livestock industry.


Derek Paravicini


Although he is one of the most talented musicians to ever sit behind the keys of a piano, the same fingers that can play Sweet Home Alabama in almost any musical style at all can barely button his shirt.


James Charles Castle


Unusual would probably be the best word to describe James’ work. Born in Idaho, he was a self-taught artistic savant who would only use random items he found lying around to make his art. For pencils he would use sharpened sticks and for ink he used a mixture of soot and saliva.


Gottfried Mind


This Swiss savant could draw. More specifically, he could draw cats. And draw them he did. He even came to be fondly known as the “Raphael of Cats” due to his peculiar ability.


Matt Savage

Charles Haynes

Although this musical wunderkind never received any formal training he has been astonishing audiences ever since he laid hands on a piano at the age of 6. An accomplished performer, he tours the world and performed for heads of state with his band, “The Matt Savage Trio.” He has received many awards and is the only child to ever sign a contract with Bösendorfer pianos.


James Henry Pullen


Also known as the “Genius of Earlswood Asylum” James never managed to speak or write more than one syllable in his entire life. In spite of his linguistic setbacks and institutionalization however, his talent for woodwork was evident to all who knew him. Although he was usually quite reserved, he was also stubborn and once reportedly constructed a guillotine like contraption over the door of a staff member’s room. Luckily for his victim it misfired.


Henrietta Seth F.


It has been estimated that only 16 percent of savants are female so Henrietta is certainly a minority within the minority. A native Hungarian, she is an accomplished artist, poet, and writer. Her life has been feature in the documentary “Freedom of Speech” and she has also authored several books.


Leslie Lemke


Leslie is an autistic savant who unfortunately had to have his eyes removed shortly after birth. At six months he was put up for adoption after which May Lemke, a nurse, took him in. Although Leslie needed almost 15 years just to learn how to walk, he learned Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto no. 1 in about 15 seconds after hearing it on television one night. Before long he was playing everywhere from Japan to Scandinavia and he has since made appearances on CBS, 60 minutes, and ABC.


Gilles Trehin


At 5 he learned to draw and by 12 he had founded a city. Well, not a real city, but pretty darn close. As a child this French savant started to lay the foundations for a city he called “Urville” with some lego blocks he had lying around. He quickly realized however, that legos are a scarce resource and he could expand his territory much more efficiently on paper. Since then he has drawn over 250 painstakingly detailed pictures, created an entire history, and even written a book concerning Urville’s geography, culture, and economy.