Medical Definition of Autistic savant

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Reviewed on 12/21/2018

Autistic savant: A person with autism who is exceptionally gifted in a specialized field. That field may, for example, be mathematics. The autistic savant may be able to do rapid, complex mental calculations. Or the field may be music. The autistic savant may be able to perform a entire piece of music after hearing it only once.

The term "autistic savant" has replaced the old term "idiot savant," which is perjorative and imprecise. A savant (from the French savoir, to know) is a sage, a learned person.

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Reviewed on 12/21/2018