The Family Link Between Autism And Extraordinary Talent

Mar 14, 2016

  Over the course of her career, psychologist Joanne Ruthsatz has quietly assembled the largest-ever research sample of child prodigies. Their accomplishments are epic. One could reproduce radio tunes by ear on a toy guitar at two years old. Another was a thirteen-year-old cooking sensation. And what Ruthsatz’s investigation revealed is noth­ing short of astonishing.

Though the prodigies aren’t autistic, many have autistic family members. Each prodigy has an extraordinary memory and a keen eye for detail—well-known but often-overlooked strengths associated with autism.

Each prodigy has an extraordinary memory and a keen eye for detail—well-known but often-overlooked strengths associated with autism. Ruthsatz and her daughter and coauthor, Kim­berly Stephens, now propose a startling possibility: What if the abilities of child prodigies stem from a genetic link with autism?

Their book is The Prodigy's Cousin: The Family Link Between Autism and Extraordinary Talent.