I just finish reading this book, Born on a Blue Day by Daniel Tammet. Daniel has severe autistic disorder, but is able to live a fully independent live, unlike most of his peers. He see numbers as shapes, colours and textures and can perform extraordinary maths in his head. He can also learn to speak a language fluently from scratch in a week. He has Savant Syndrome, an extremely rare form of Asperger’s that gives him almost unimaginable mental powers, much like the Rain Man potrayed by Dustin Hoffman. Daniel is also a homsexual and a Christian.
I had only a vague notion of what autism was before reading this book — lack of social skills, can’t communicate emotions, etc. I had heard the trials and struggles that parents with autistic children have to endure, but hearing this struggles from the autistic person himself was eye-opening. He knows he’s different but at the same time he’s content with who he is. He understands that these same differences have made him the person he is today.
What was even more intriguing was Daniel’s concept of mathematics and words (as a savant). Just reading his own visual landscape of numbers made me see math in a whole new light. It can have physical properties, it can express emotion or any other miriad of things (for Daniel, at least). Math is truly a separate language in this view. It’s funny how his own unique perspective on numbers as physical shapes can click in your own mind. Somewhere, somehow, his way of thinking makes sense too. Of course it makes sense that you can multiply two numbers by creating a new shape between the other two (why didn’t I ever think of it that way?). His insights (and those of other savants) into the worlds of math and language can open up whole new portals in these areas that we had never even thought of before.
This truly inspirational book extends far beyond autism and gives us all a glimpse at the human spirit, its dignity and strength, unique to every individual, but beautiful just the same.
Reading Daniel’s autobiography left me awe stricken to the greatness of the human mind. There’s so much we are yet to know about what we can be capable of when our brain is harnessed to its fullest.
My curiosity was piqued to find out more about Daniel Tammet after reading his autobiographer. I found some videos about him on Youtube. Here’s the one where he made a guest appearance on the Late Night Show with David Letterman:
The BBC produced 60 minutes documentary, Daniel Tammet – The Boy with the Incredible Brain:
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