For parents of a child who is gifted and talented, there is no question the extent to which the child can perform or excel in a particular activity. In contrast, children who are involved in special education, or perceived as autistic or mentally delayed, the intelligence component may indicate the child carries Savant syndrome.
Savant syndrome is a condition most commonly diagnosed in childhood. Marked by the common traits of autism, many children who are ultimately diagnosed as experiencing Savant syndrome are usually diagnosed as autistic and experience great ridicule within the classroom and in social settings.
While the exact cause and origin of Savant syndrome is not clear, many believe this phenomenal gift may be attributed to some form of brain damage or gene mutation that results in one aspect of the brain working significantly greater than another.
How do you know if your child is experiencing Savant syndrome? To diagnose this syndrome in children, the first indication will be a profound gift or talent within your child; a talent or gift that is far greater than that of any other child at or near the same age group. When tested, the child’s IQ, overall, is considered relatively normal.
While Savant syndrome may seem rather detrimental, socially and emotionally to a child, it rarely is damaging. In fact, if parents can cultivate and nurture the talent in their child, ultimately, the gift or talent may lead them to a very productive life as adults. For this reason, once your child has been diagnosed as experiencing Savant syndrome, there are usually no recommendations made with respect to the condition with only possible need for psychotherapy in addressing issues of social awkwardness or social isolation.
For some children who experience Savant syndrome, there is a tendency among the parents to not only encourage and nurture the gift or talent in their child but also move well beyond this scope, often pushing their child to perform in ways that may be financially lucrative to the parents. For example, a child who displays profound ability in playing a musical instrument may fall prey to the demands of a parent to perform in venues for profit. Often, when the child is experiencing autism with the Savant syndrome, these types of demands can lead to mental health complications.
As with any gifted or talented child, you want to encourage your Savant child to embrace their unique and gifted ability. Offering encouragement and setting the foundation for advancement will only serve to provide your child with a better outlook in the future as they transition into adulthood as a person with Savant syndrome. Without force, embrace their uniqueness and offer both the personal and professional psychotherapy needed to negate the most profound impact of Savant syndrome; the effects of isolation and social awkwardness.