Born on a Blue Day: Inside the Extraordinary Mind of an Autistic Savant

( 85 )

Overview

One of the world's fifty living autistic savants is the first and only to tell his compelling and inspiring life story—and explain how his incredible mind works.

Worldwide, there are fewer than fifty living savants, those autistic individuals who can perform miraculous mental calculations or artistic feats (think Dustin Hoffman's character in Rain Man). Until now, none of them has ever been capable of discussing his or her thought processes, ...

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Born On A Blue Day: Inside the Extraordinary Mind of an Autistic Savant

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Overview

One of the world's fifty living autistic savants is the first and only to tell his compelling and inspiring life story—and explain how his incredible mind works.

Worldwide, there are fewer than fifty living savants, those autistic individuals who can perform miraculous mental calculations or artistic feats (think Dustin Hoffman's character in Rain Man). Until now, none of them has ever been capable of discussing his or her thought processes, much less undertake the writing of a book. Daniel Tammet is the first.

From childhood, Tammet's problems were immediately apparent. He was shunned by his classmates and often resorted to rocking and humming quietly. Yet he could memorize almost anything, and his math and language skills were astonishing. By the time he entered high school, Daniel was diagnosed as autistic, and he began to discover his own superhuman abilities—calculating huge sums in his head in seconds, learning new languages in one week, and memorizing more than 22,000 digits of pi.

With heart-melting simplicity and astonishing self-awareness, Born on a Blue Day tells Daniel's story—from his childhood frustrations to adult triumphs—while explaining how his mind works. He thinks in pictures. He sees numbers as complex shapes; thirty-seven, for example, is lumpy like porridge, while eighty-nine reminds him of falling snow. Today, Daniel has emerged as one of the world's most fascinating minds and inspiring stories. While his brain has amazed scientists for years, everyone will be moved by this remarkable man's life story.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Tammet displays a surprising level of sensitivity—-and a refreshing lack of sentimentality—-in an account that inspires even as it astonishes." —-Entertainment Weekly
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781400104031
  • Publisher: Tantor Media, Inc.
  • Publication date: 2/1/2007
  • Format: CD
  • Edition description: Unabridged CD
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 5.30 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author


Daniel Tammet grew up in London and briefly taught English as a second language in Lithuania. He has been extensively studied at California's Center for Brain Studies and at the Cambridge Autism Research Centre. Today he lives with his partner Neil in Southeast England, and raises money for charities to help people with neurological disorders. Simon Vance, a former BBC Radio presenter and newsreader, is a full-time actor who has appeared on both stage and television. He has recorded over four hundred audiobooks and has earned over twenty Earphones Awards from AudioFile magazine, including one for his narration of Scaramouche by Rafael Sabatini. A twelve-time Audie finalist, Simon has won Audie Awards for The King's Speech by Mark Logue and Peter Conradi, The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens, Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, Market Forces by Richard K. Morgan, and The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff. Winner of the 2008 Booklist Voice of Choice Award, Simon has also been named an AudioFile Golden Voice as well as an AudioFile Best Voice of 2009.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 85 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(38)

4 Star

(28)

3 Star

(13)

2 Star

(5)

1 Star

(1)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 85 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 29, 2012

    Great Book-definitely worth the read!

    January 29, 2012

    The Obstacle of Life
    By Daniel Clemens

    Born on a Blue Day
    By Daniel Tammet



    An autistic boy who has to learn life the hard way. This statement best describes Daniel from his own book, Born on a Blue Day. This disease lays barriers to him in everyday occurrences, like walking across the street. As Tammet matures, he tears down these obstacles bit by bit until they are almost completely gone. He wrote this story to show how this can be done and to prove how people with not only autism, but many diseases, can be just as normal as everyone else.
    Diagnosed with Aspergers syndrome, a form of autism, at such a young age changed Tammet’s future forever. Tammet sets up situations where his siblings check out books from his homemade library with fake library cards. He gathers the most random things from the most random of places like chestnuts or ladybugs. At school, Tammet has trouble making friends but he excels in all of his subjects. He sees numbers as symbols and figures and has a hard time communicating with people.
    As Tammet enters puberty he learns to talk with others better and he even makes a few friends. After graduating high school, he faces a tough decision: to go to college or not. He decides that it would be better not to. Instead he signs up for an opportunity to teach English in an eastern European country called Lithuania. When Tammet returns home he finally leaves home to fend for himself. He meets a man named Neil. He moves in with Neil and Tammet even starts his own business. Daniel recites over twenty-thousand decimal points of pi. Because of this, Tammet is asked to appear in a documentary about his autism in America.
    Tammet spent his life beating his autism and that got in the way of him having friends, learning in school, and even falling in love. He is completely right, however, that autistic people can be just as normal as you or me. Over and over, Tammet talks about the hardships he faces and how tough they are to overcome.
    The book skips around quite a bit at points and during those times it is kind of hard to follow. Eventually, though, it all ties back together and makes sense. Another area that lacks is organization. It is choppy and does not flow. Despite these drawbacks, I would recommend this to anyone looking for an inspiring read that also has an interesting story line and writing style I, as a reader, thoroughly enjoyed this book and I loved the way Daniel portrayed his illness and how well I could understand it.
    Born on a Blue Day provides a unique insight into the life of an autistic person. It is unparalleled in its class and should be considered an extremely good story. As soon as you flip the final page you will be a different person, I guarantee it. Definitely worth the read.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 26, 2012

    Bored on a Blue Day

    In Born On a Blue Day, Daniel Tammet tells the story of his life with Autism and Asperger’s and how it affects his life. As a child, Tammet does not play with the other children. He chooses instead to make his own imaginary friends and talk with them. This, of course, leads to some bullying but he does not mind at all. He enjoys the time to himself. After finishing high school, Tammet volunteers in Lithuania as a teacher. There he makes friends and overcomes a little bit of his apprehension with other people. Eventually, Tammet astounds the world by doing the amazing task of reading off 22,514 digits of Pi. Along this journey, Tammet discovers things about himself regarding sexuality, his calling in life, and relationships. This memoir deals very well with the overcoming of Tammet’s mental disorders. Unfortunately, some of the traits of Autism still shine through in his writing.
    Daniel Tammet is very clear when stating his ideas and memories throughout this book. He provides a lot of information to provide background on the various topics he covers in the memoir of his life. However, this plethora of information sometimes takes away from the story. Often, the informative part of a story takes up about half of the chapter. The material given is no doubt interesting, but there is a point where you begin to think the memoir has turned into a non-fiction essay about Pi or complicated card games. By the time you are done reading this information, you forget why Tammet is telling you about it in the first place. This shows Tammet’s attention to detail and information, however, allowing the flaws to be part of the view inside the mind of a high functioning Autistic person. This time, I guess, Tammet gets lucky.
    Another flaw I notice in Born On a Blue Day is the lack of a personal connection between the author and the reader. This may be a side-effect of the abundant information mentioned above, but is serious problem none the less. This is supposed to be a story of enduring hardship, yet all we get was a story. Tammet rarely lets us see into the emotional side of his mind throughout this memoir. More often he is ranting about the way numbers feel. This creates a major barrier to the average human as to seeing how Tammet overcomes any hardship. In fact, it sounds to me as if Tammet enjoys most of his life. He is bullied, but doesn’t care. Once again, this lack of connection could be due to his disorders but it still created a large obstacle in the story.
    Overall, Born On a Blue Day is an interesting account of a Savant Autistic person with Asperger’s, but fails as a tale of overcoming hardship. I would recommend this book to a friend only if they wish to be informed, not so much inspired. Tammet is no doubt a great and courageous person for what he has done but maybe he should try and incorporate more emotions next time. I give this book a C.

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 2, 2013

    Born On A Blue Day by Daniel Tammet takes you inside

    Born On A Blue Day by Daniel Tammet takes you inside the personal journey of a man overcoming his dissabilities to live a spectactular life. The author himself writes of his life story on dealing with Autism. He has a form of high performing Aspberger's syndrome. He sees numbers as shapes, colors, and textures, and he can perform extraordinary calculations in his head. He also can learn to speak new languages fluently, from scratch, in a week. In 2004, he memorized and recited more than 22,000 digits of pi, setting a record. He has savant syndrome, an extremely rare condition that gives him almost unimaginable mental powers.
    Unlike many people who suffer from the same disorders Daniel Tammet has suffered from, he has been able to live an independent and normal life. He has emerged from autism with the ability to function successfully. He learned to use his strengths to overcome and outshine some of his weaknesses. He grew into his own skin after realizing he was a unique individual with things to offer just like everyone else. He gives an amazing reflection and look inside of his world.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 24, 2012

    A MUST READ for Teachers

    Born on a Blue Day is a rare, first person account of living with autism. Daniel Tammet tells his story with candor and provides remarkable insight into his everyday life. I am grateful to Daniel, because he has helped gain a greater appreciation of my students who have autism. Born on a Blue Day should be required reading for every teacher and especially for all college students majoring in education.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 23, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    This is a coming-of-age memoir about a high-functioning autistic

    This is a coming-of-age memoir about a high-functioning autistic savant who also has synesthesia. It is rare for a savant to be as high-functioning as Tammet, therefore this memoir provides a unique and fascinating look into Asperger's, savantism, and synesthesia. It was endearing to watch Tammet metamorphose from an awkward child into a much more secure adult. The story is insightful and inspiring...I imagine it would be especially so for teens with Asperger's who are concerned that they will never be able to function in the "real world."

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 4, 2012

    Didn't want it to end!!

    A splendidly, delightful and insightful look at an autistic savant, through his own eyes. Very enlightening. With a nephew and niece who have recently been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders, I found this book to be most interesting. I highly recommend it!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 19, 2012

    Enjoyable story

    I enjoyed Daniel's story very much. He is extremely eloquent. It is fascinating to get a first hand account of how his mind works. I'm so glad he has found happiness in his life and followed his heart to do what he loves. Kudos to his family for being so supportive.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 29, 2012

    The Must Read Novel

    Daniel Tammet paints an interesting picture. His words are calculated and precise, but not lacking in description and interest. Though he felt lonely throughout his childhood, I feel that he could have cut down on his childhood loneliness. While this does make up a big portion of his childhood, I found this to be the most difficult portion to read. It is slightly dry, but looking back in retrospect at it, I can understand why Daniel Tammet organized the book the way he did.
    He makes the readers think in an utterly unique way. At first, I find his loneliness and longing as a sign of being in need of a friend and an utter lacking of interest to read. Then it made me think about my own experiences of being alone. It shows the longing I had myself about having friends and understood, is a universal notion for all of human kind. The pieces all came together after that point in the book. After these thoughts, it makes a portion of the book that was previously so dry, completely relatable in a way I hadn’t thought was possible originally.
    Daniel Tammet also struggles with socials skills. I know that I, myself, have never had problems with social skills. He struggled at learning and adapting to the world around him, but he does it. Daniel Tammet shows the world that he can develop skills he isn’t born with. And also that it is possible to learn how to defy odds, even when they are stacked against you. The interesting thing about Daniel Tammet’s odds is that they are not unique. There are many autistic people in the world and he gives them hope by showing them that it is possible to retain a sense of “normalcy” while still retaining themselves. He exemplifies for the socially adequate reader that you can do whatever you want to achieve, if you put your mind. Through his achievements of breaking the longest memorization of digits of Pi and going to a foreign country while hardly ever leaving the safe comforts of home Daniel Tammet shows it is possible to excel.
    Born on a Blue Day is a must read book. I give it a four for the sheer fact it is so relatable to everyone. It will force the people who believe ignorance is bliss, rethink their morals and start to wonder if their lifestyle is truly as right as they believe it to be. It also brings true hope to the hopeless, faith to the faithless, and a new way of thinking to those who didn’t know they needed it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 29, 2012

    It Just Doesn't Add Up

    Daniel Tammet wrote Born on a Blue Day to show his struggle with being an autistic savant and his sexuality. He wants people to understand that autistic people aren’t weird or inappropriate, but special. He states that what he does may be different, but that he doesn’t believe he might be wrong. His way of life seems like the correct way to live. Tammet’s lack of emotion is his strongest attribute and keeps us from knowing what he truly feels. I understand that Daniel Tammet has a hard time connecting with feelings, as do most autistic people; but emotion or connection to books is what makes them compelling. I, as a reader, want to connect to a person's life and become apart of it while I’m enthralled in a book. Born on a Blue Day does not have this quality. The book is a memoir, so it should go deep inside Tammet’s feelings. Daniel Tammet starts his novel off with his very first day of life, a Wednesday. “I know it was a Wednesday, because the date is blue in my mind and Wednesdays are always blue, like the number nine or the sound of loud voices arguing,” he writes. Tammet has been able to do large mathematical equations in his head since he was young. He gives visual attribute to numbers, and they all go together like puzzle pieces. Daniel even sees people as certain numbers based on their qualities. In his later life he recites 22,514 digits of pi, breaking a huge record. This brings him fame in the math world. Tammet was not very social, but this did not disturb him. He had no need for friends and enjoyed having time for himself. When he graduated from high school he is faced with a difficult decision: Should he go to college? He decides against it and teaches English in Lithuania. This is his beginning of a new life, a social life. Daniel makes genuine friends that he keeps in contact with for a long time. Daniel writes recalling minute details and tons of facts. All this information takes away from the story. At some points I forgot what I was reading about. This may be an expression of Daniel’s autism, but also makes the book uninteresting at times. I wish that there were more of a balance between facts and emotion. Tammet finds himself relating people and places to numbers. This is an interesting way of seeing things, but is very difficult for me to relate. He is almost disconnected from his reader. Finally, Tammet has a hard time finding his voice. What is his purpose? He never quite succeeds at letting the audience know about how he overcame his struggles. Read Born on a Blue Day to learn about a different way of existing, not to inspire you. Tammet’s reason for writing this was to introduce himself and to educate people on his disorder. This book makes me wonder if Tammet’s lack of emotion contributed to his writing, or is he simply a boring writer?

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 27, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Fascinating insights into a fascinating view of the world

    Being a mathematician gives me an automatic interest in a book that has numbers on its cover. Being a writer brings the image of a blue day vividly to life. And knowing a number of people with diagnoses on the autistic spectrum means Daniel Tammet's memoir, Born on a Blue Day, has to intrigue me. What I didn't know was just how much I would enjoy it.

    Like Temple Grandin, Daniel Tammet uses events from his life to provide insight into his way of feeling and thinking. He tells how he perceives the shape and texture of colors, and how that landscape led to his famous recitation of the first 22,514 digits of pi in five hours and nine minutes! But such savant skills, while academically exciting, don't help a child learn how to find a friend, or how to answer questions in school when the teacher looks at him.

    The author's experiences include hints of the relatable with explanations that sound almost like a sixth or seventh sense. The social difference of Asperger's syndrome combines with the wonder of synesthesia to create a world as strange as the digits of pi. When the author succeeds, the reader wants to rejoice. He makes the beauty of numbers as vivid as that of linguistics. Speaking many languages himself, he describes the joy of learning a new one, the sorting of words and derivations filled with texture and color for the reader. Speaking the digits of pi, he builds a picture of himself as clear as the landscape in his mind. As his story progresses from shy child to world-traveller, and from loner to young man delighting in his partner's presence and love, so the author seems to become the reader's friend, someone I for one am delighted to have met in the pages of a blue day.



    Disclosure: A friend who also has relatives on the autism spectrum loaned me this book, knowing I would love it as much as she did.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 28, 2011

    using the bennifits of autism

    Using the Benefits of Autism
    One might argue that autism is a disease that has no benefits, well I don't agree. I now believe that autism can help you grow as a person or at least that's what I read in the novel; Born on a Blue Day. Would you believe that a man with autism holds the record for the most memorized digits of Pi? Daniel Tammet sees numbers as shapes, colors, and textures which helps him to perform unbelievable calculations in his head. He can also memorize languages and speak them fluently after only one or two weeks. This is the book of his remarkable life.
    A major reoccurring theme that I felt was the idea that nothing should stop you. He didn't come out and say it, but often I forgot that he had autism. He was doing these remarkable things that no one else could do. People with perfect brains couldn't even do it.
    I really liked the whole idea of the story. I liked how I could relate to him. He had a disease that others told him should stop him. I have diabetes yet I do a lot of sports. Sometimes I feel I should stop because my body can't handle it. But I know if I just take a quick break I'll be fine and I can keep going. I didn't have a dislike.
    I would request this book to someone who was feeling low on themselves or who felt bad about where they stood. This book will give you a new opinion and new ideas about how to handle your trials.
    Overall I would give this book a solid A.
    "The number one, for example, is a brilliant and bright white, like someone shinning a flashlight into my eyes." I feel like this could be a crux because it shows how complex his mind is. There are several cruxes' that could be taken out of this book. The only way to get the full ideas is read it.
    What values from the time period are reflected in this book?
    The time period was modern day. A struggle he went through was people not accepting him because of his disease. This was probably very rough on him and very believable that it was during this time period.
    What unique trials did the protagonist face?
    The protagonist faced some trails that the readers would never want to face. Like me, I would never want to put myself in his shoes; I feel it would be way too hard to deal with.
    What literary elements, normally found in fiction writing, did you also find in this non-fiction book?
    A fiction book usually takes time creating the scenery and showing how the characters went along with the plot. In this book Daniel took imagery and made the book feel as real as if I was there.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 12, 2010

    Great story- written beautifully

    Meet Daniel Temmet. He has to count how many articles of clothing we is wearing every morning, and eats the same amount of cereal. He paces when he's nervous, and counts when he's uncomfortable. He is an autistic savant. Like most other autistic savants, he sees numbers as pictures. Complex math problems are simple for him, he set the record (over 22,000) for memorizing the digits of pi. Unlike most, he is can have a independent life. His story is inspiring, and sometimes funny. But no matter what, Daniel's story looks into the mind, something we all have in common.
    I would highly recommend this book who would like to widen their knowledge of autistic savants, or just want to read a well-written story. The writing style is elegant and refined, and the story is blunt and truthful. I didn't like however, the beginning. For the first couple of chapters, I was bored. But, keep reading! It gets really good! But they main thing I took away from this book is hope. Throughout Daniel's childhood, he was bullied, couldn't make friends, and didn't fit in anywhere. But after a couple years of practice, he is a loved celebrity all around the world.
    Daniel just released a new book called: Embracing the Wide Sky. I would definitely recommend it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 23, 2010

    An interesting read about anun common suject

    "Born on a blue day" is the story of Daniel Tammet's life as an autistic savant and the trials and tribulations he has endured in the first 30 or so years of his life. One of the major themes in this book was overcoming adversity. Daniel starts life as a shy introverted individual that eventually transforms into someone of great significance and influence. One of the more important messages conveyed, in my opinion, was that one can overcome many difficulties with the help of others. This novel was well written and very easy to read. Daniel makes it possible for others to start to understand his way of thinking. The book is filled with many medical facts and phenomenons that he has witnessed and endured. However, i felt that the book dragged on in some sections, revisiting already explained stories and experiences. Also, some stories and comments seemed irrelevant to the story, wild tangents or side notes.This book would be valuable to others because it exemplifies what its like to be different, also it is a good first hand account of a person with a rare disorder. After reading the book, i would suggest watching videos on youtube of daniel Tammet, the videos are interesting and also put a face/voice to the person being envisioned throughout the book. Overall, i would give this book 4/5 stars. -Michael

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 14, 2010

    Intersting but wanted more

    Daniel Tammet is obviously an extraordinary human being. He's an autistic savant who can remember - and recite - over 22,000 digits of pi and become fluent in a language in a week, but his autism hasn't stopped him from living on his own, teaching others, and falling in love. That said, his book reads mostly like a regular autobiography. That he wrote it at all is an amazing feat, and it's about amazing things, but since the sub-title is "Inside the Extraordinary Mind of an Autistic Savant" I was expecting a little more about his thought processes - I wanted to go "inside the mind." I was especially interested in his description of numbers as shapes and colors, but I was left wanting more - how does that make mathematical processes and remembering large numbers easier? Do the shapes fit together? Could I remember a landscape better than a number string? Maybe it's too much to ask. I probably couldn't explain my thought process to others either, but I was disappointed that there wasn't more of that type of insight in this book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 5, 2010

    Absolutely necessary reading

    This is an extremely important book and a must read for those who have any questions about mental problems children are encountering in this day and age.

    Feel the book gives a perspective to a major problem and sheds light to those of us who really haven't had any exposure to theh situation.

    Books gives hope for those with children who have this problem.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 19, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Very Engaging

    I don't normally like biographies or memoirs but this book was pretty interesting. I listened to it on audio and the reader's voice was perfect. Listening to Daniel's story was uplifting and intriguing. Such a brilliant mind!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 17, 2009

    Outstanding book on what it means to have mind that works in a different way

    If you or any of your friends or family work with or know Autistic people I think you will find this book fantastic. Daniel tells us how he sees the world and how he works to deal with life from this prospective. It gives you cause to wonder about what is going on in the minds of other people who think differently and can not verbalize it like Daniel.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 15, 2009

    Insightful

    It was amazing to be offered even a glimpse into how this autistic author's mind works and all his courageous choices that led him to a rewarding life.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 29, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Inside The Mind Of An Autistic Savant

    Extremely readable and interesting memoir of an autistic young man who's brain functions at levels unknown to most. An informative read for those who deal with autism on a regular basis. A great read for anyone interested in science and the workings of the mind.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 6, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Positive Story About Asperger Syndrome

    I am a special education teacher and found this book so enlightening into the minds of students. If you do not know anyone with Asperger Syndrome or Autism, it probably would not have the same effect. However, if you want to hear a good outcome story of someone with Asperger Syndrome, this is the book for you. I even purchased a second copy for my sister.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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