COLUMBUS, Ohio - A new study of eight child prodigies suggests a possible link between these children's special skills and autism.
Of the eight prodigies studied, three had a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorders. As a group, the prodigies also tended to have slightly elevated scores on a test of autistic traits, when compared to a control group.
In addition, half of the prodigies had a family member or a first- or second-degree relative with an autism diagnosis.
The fact that half of the families and three of the prodigies themselves were affected by autism is surprising because autism occurs in only one of 120 individuals, said Joanne Ruthsatz, lead author of the study and assistant professor of psychology at Ohio State University's Mansfield campus.
"The link between child prodigies and autism is strong in our study," Ruthsatz said. "Our findings suggest child prodigies have traits in common with autistic children, but something is preventing them from displaying the deficits we associate with the disorder."
The study also found that while child prodigies had elevated general intelligence scores, where they really excelled was in working memory - all of them scored above the 99th percentile on this trait.
Ruthsatz conducted the study with Jourdan Urbach of Yale University. Their results were published in a recent issue of the journal Intelligence.
For the study, the researchers identified eight child prodigies through the internet and television specials and by referral. The group included one art prodigy, one math prodigy, four musical prodigies and two who switched domains (one from music to gourmet cooking, and one from music to art). The study included six males and two females.
The researchers met with each prodigy individually over the course of two or three days. During that time, the prodigies completed the Stanford-Binet intelligence test, which included sub-tests on f
|Contact: Jeff Grabmeier|
Ohio State University