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Born on a Blue Day: Inside the Extraordinary Mind of an Autistic Savant: A… (2006)
by Daniel Tammet
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This was a really good book. Daniel Tammet described his experiences matter-of-factly and clearly, and it was a joy to watch him grow into himself and turn what society thought of as a limitation into an asset. Tammet sees numbers as a landscape of shapes and colours, making it easier for him to calculate large sums, and some of the shapes are reproduced in the book. (I did raise an eyebrow at the cover of my edition, which shows a cloud of blue numbers—I can understand from a graphic design standpoint why that choice was made, but it’s not accurate to Tammet’s experience because he sees each number as a different colour and size.) I really liked too that Tammet included interesting facts about the places he visited and the languages he learned. I’m looking forward to reading another of his books, Every Word is a Bird We Teach to Sing. ( )
I found this book fascinating. I even saw a little of myself in it occasionally. I am not autistic or anything special, but I am good with numbers and enjoy them. This book also let me see a little bit into the life of an acquaintance, who is autistic. All in all, I found this book very interesting; I love books that make me think.
This book is the autobiography of Daniel Temmet, who sees numbers unlike most people and can learn languages faster than almost anyone. And he's a nice guy. I enjoyed reading about him.
The memoir also provides great insight into someone who functions high on the autism spectrum. It's hard to explain how someone who can do so much also can't 9 to 5 it because of other things.
The book ends a little bit after the release of Brain Man, which features Daniel and scientists who believe and don't believe how he does what he does. I found a copy on YouTube and found it a great balance to the book. I recommend both.
Daniel describes his thinking of numbers in terms of colors and shapes along with his ability to memorize so many details including many languages. I liked reading how a person with symptoms such as autism might think and feel as well as the methods he used to cope with situations. Not being comfortable at expressing and showing emotions helped give incite into how hard it is for a person with this disability to function in school and later society when around people.
Daniel is a very high-functioning autistic person with savant syndrome- he has an extraordinary ability to recall and compute large numbers- due in large part to his unique way of visualizing them as distinct shapes and colors. He has synesthesia with both numbers and words. And he suffered from epilepsy as a child. This memoir describes how he grew up, isolated in many ways yet enjoying his own sensations and obsessions (especially collecting things) and only when he was older having a desire to interact with peers learning to navigate social interactions and tasks like shopping or finding his way on bus routes. He describes difficulties in school, living in a large family (nine siblings!) and how he calms himself in stressful situations. How he volunteered to work overseas teaching English as a second language, how his aptitude for learning languages works, how he once memorized and recited 22,000 digits of the number pi to break a world record! (It took five hours to make the recitation). And finally, how he discovered that he's gay, fell in love, and moved in with his partner, living independently and successfully started a business creating a website to help people learn foreign languages. It's astounding. Most of all to me, the very different way in which he visualizes and understands the world. Last year I watched a documentary made about him and I was just blown away. Even the mental games he tells of playing as a child, with numbers, I can't really comprehend. Although the writing style is a bit dry, he recalls incidents with a lot of detail- even from a young age. Some of them sad, to see how peers at first shunned him, and teachers misunderstood. His story of overcoming challenges living with autism and finding his way in the world, to living independently with someone he loves and even finding religion, is very inspiring.
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An autistic savant with genius-level mathematical talents describes how he was shunned by his classmates in spite of his super-human capacity for math and language and offers insight into how he experiences the world.
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Melvil Decimal System (DDC)362.196858820092Social sciences Social problems and services; associations Social problems of & services to groups of people People with physical illnesses Services to people with specific conditions Diseases Diseases of nervous system and mental disorders Miscellaneous diseases of nervous system and mental disorders Personality, sexual, gender-identity, impulse-control, factitious, developmental, learning disorders; violent behavior; mental retardation Mental retardation; developmental and learning disorders Autism
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An edition of this book was published by Tantor Media.