What is Savant Syndrome?
It is observed that individuals with mental and developmental disabilities, especially autism, have surprising abilities in a way to contrast with this situation. This is a syndrome called Savant syndrome in medicine, and it has been diagnosed in many individuals who are recognized worldwide and have signed important inventions and studies. Savant Syndrome, which is seen congenitally or may develop later, occurs in 1 out of every 10 individuals diagnosed with autism. In addition, in many diseases that cause mental disability, developmental retardation and brain damage, skills, and abilities related to Savant Syndrome are observed. Savant skills can be detected at an early stage thanks to the diagnosis of diseases that can cause mental retardation and qualified special education. With the right education, these abilities and skills can be brought to the society even by moving to a higher level. For this reason, correct education and continuous medical follow-up are of great importance in all kinds of diseases that cause developmental and mental disorders, especially autism.
What is Savant Syndrome?
Savant Syndrome is a table characterized by an individual with significant mental disabilities, displaying some abilities far above the general average. First of all, he brought Down’s syndrome to medical literature in 1887. The Savant syndrome, defined by Langdon Down, is derived from the word “Savoir”, which means “Wise” in French. Although different names were made in the early periods such as “Idiot Savant” or “Autistic Savant“, it was decided to name this medical table as Savant syndrome due to the fact that these expressions were wrong and derogatory, and this could be observed in mental diseases other than autism. Although most of the cases have mental retardation due to autism and a very strong link between autism and Savant, approximately half of all cases have disorders and developmental disabilities related to the central nervous system. Savant skills can be congenital (congenital) or appear in childhood and even in adulthood. The genre in which the talents later emerged is also called the acquired Savant. It is stated by the scientific world that in such patients the memory is at an excellent depth but limited in a very narrow space.
What are the symptoms of Savant syndrome?
Savant syndrome is most common in individuals with autism. Autism is a type of neurodevelopmental disorder that makes it difficult to interact with other individuals, limit interest, and cause repetitive behavior. It is wrong to describe this disease as a mental illness or mental health. The most common symptoms of autism, also called autism spectrum disorder in the medical language, are:
- Difficulty in making eye contact,
- Not interested in sharing entertainment, interests, and achievements,
- Difficulty in establishing empathy, in other words, understanding others’ feelings of pain, sadness, and happiness,
- Not being able to establish a friendship relationship with peers,
- Difficulty learning or speaking,
- Having difficulty starting a conversation or maintaining a conversation,
- Insist on repeating the same things all the time,
- Difficulty in understanding the implications, jokes and what the other person wants to say.
Having one or more of the above symptoms can be a precursor of autism or different neurodevelopmental or psychiatric diseases. Therefore, individuals with these symptoms should apply to health institutions for examination.
What are the causes of Savant syndrome?
Until 2004, no information and assumptions about the causes of Savant Syndrome have been made. As of 2004, research on the subject has increased, however, it has been suggested by some researchers that Savant is caused by a change in genetic structure. It has been stated that scientists have developed such gene structure changes as damage to the left hemisphere to compensate for a change occurring in the right hemisphere of the brain. These thoughts have not yet been scientifically proven, and so research on the cause of the syndrome is still ongoing. Individuals with autism are in the group with the highest probability of developing Savant Syndrome. Autism, like Savant Syndrome, is a type of disease that is thought to have an important role, although the cause has not yet been fully determined. Boys are 4-5 times more likely to have autism than girls. Factors that can be counted among the development causes of autism, which are the most common causes of Savant Syndrome are:
- In the prenatal period, the mother is in fear, panic, stress and emotional confusion,
- Parents not giving enough time to their children after birth due to excessive occupation,
- To leave children alone and watch TV excessively,
- Genetic inheritance from the family.
How is Savant syndrome diagnosed?
Early diagnosis and treatment are of great importance in terms of reducing autism symptoms and bringing individuals with autism to life. Although there are no concrete medical tests for the diagnosis of autism, the disease can only be diagnosed through observation. It is sufficient to observe whether there are level differences in speech, socialization, thoughts, and behaviors in children compared to their peers, in order to detect the first suspicions about the disease. Parents should immediately apply to health institutions in case they feel any negative by examining how their children develop in these areas compared to other children. Some of the findings that indicate the presence of the disease are situations such as not being able to react to events occurring with the child, pointing the objects that interest him with his finger, and focusing on objects such as television and washing machine for hours. Physicians and other healthcare professionals who specialize in neurodevelopmental disorders can easily diagnose autism by observing children and asking their families and carers some questions. Whether Savant Syndrome is present in autism and other types of diseases causing mental retardation can also be diagnosed by the family by recognizing superior skills in some areas in children or by healthcare professionals. Since the cause of autism has not yet been determined, there is no cure. The biggest and only treatment option of the disease is effective and qualified special education. Thanks to this training, both autism symptoms can be largely eliminated and Savant skills can be developed in the desired direction and shaped.
What are the methods of treatment of Savant syndrome?
Savant Syndrome is not a disease alone. Therefore, its treatment is the same as the treatment processes of diseases such as autism, central nervous system disorders and brain damage underlying the syndrome. In Savant Syndrome, in addition to the treatment of existing diseases, Savant skills are aimed to be used and developed in a personal, social and professional sense. This development is also very effective in the treatment of mental and developmental delays due to autism and other causes. The most effective treatment method in autism is special education. Individuals with autism should be trained in institutions that are specially opened for these individuals and are provided with qualified training, in which specialist instructors work. Thanks to the correct education process, an individual with autism can develop himself at an undetectable level of autism from the outside, can gain dignity by society and have a successful social life. For this reason, children should be brought to health institutions as soon as the symptoms of autism are noticed. In children diagnosed with Savant Syndrome, the education plan should be shaped accordingly and the individual should be subjected to a correct education by the specialists in order to have a successful professional life.
If you suspect that your child may have autism or a similar disease, if you observe symptoms or Savant skills, you can contact a healthcare provider immediately and have your child undergo detailed examinations.