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BRANCHING OUT FROM AUTISTIC SAVANTISM: IDENTFYING AND DEFINING AUTISTIC CRYPTO-SAVANTISM IN INDIVIDUALS WITH NON-VERBAL/VERBAL LOW-FUNCTIONING AUTISM

Chua Chee Keong; Chia Kok Hwee

With the escalating prevalence of autism spectrum disorder, there is also an increasing number of autistic savants, who besides their autistic disorder, also possess both extraordinary special abilities and remarkable memory. Within this group of autistic savants, there is a hidden category of low-functioning individuals with autism first identified by Rimland (1990) as autistic crypto-savants – unable to communicate (with little or no speech) but possess savant talents hidden, or remained secret, and are unknown to those around them. The existence of such individuals cannot be denied unless proven otherwise. Hence, in this paper the authors hope to focus on two key issues: firstly, the need to fully understand and explain their aetiologies; and secondly, with no conclusions drawn currently, the need to fully explore the ramifications of autistic crypto-savants. The term autistic crypto-savantism and its definition, like the broader term autism, has evolved over the past decades due to better understanding and/or new discoveries. Hence, the authors of this paper strongly feel that there is a need to re-examine the existence of autistic crypto-savantism within the wider context of autistic savantism and current definition of autism.

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