A case of savant syndrome in a child with autism spectrum disorder

Maria Finocchiaro, Francesco Domenico Di Blasi, Rosa Zuccarello, Angela Antonia Costanzo, Claudia Cantagallo, Maria Teresa Amata, Marinella Zingale, Maurizio Elia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Savant syndrome is a rare condition, in which persons with serious intellectual disabilities demonstrate extraordinary capacities or abilities in contrast to their overall disability. This paper presents the savant abilities of a child with autism spectrum disorder, who showed exceptional arithmetic skills and higher word decoding ability. Methods: A protocol of academic skills evaluation was administered. Assessment of calculation skills included tests on written calculations; numerical knowledge indicating the semantic, syntactic and lexical level; and accuracy and speed measurement. Results: Performances in number elaboration showed an adequate access to semantic and verbal number information. In the written and mental calculation task and in fact retrieval, implicating calculation strategies and information retrieval, processes were automatized. Conclusions: The data gathered show that the child's performance both for number elaboration and calculation procedures is higher than the school grade attended, typical of people with exceptional abilities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)167-174
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal on Disability and Human Development
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Calculation
  • Savant syndrome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation
  • Sensory Systems
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Advanced and Specialised Nursing
  • Speech and Hearing


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