Some Kind of Genius: The Extraordinary Journey of Musical Savant Tony DeBlois
Janice DeBlois & Antonia Felix
Rodale, 2005 (2005)
Read an Excerpt
Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth
e've all heard of, seen, or read about
The Rain Man
, so aptly portrayed on the wide screen by Dustin Hoffman. He played a mathematical savant in the movie. I remember being awed by that character but then forgot him. Janice DeBlois could not forget about her very own savant. Her son Tony was born early, weighing less than two pounds, blind, autistic, and with other developmental problems.
ome Kind of Genius
is as much a tribute to the mother as to her son's unusual ability to instantly recreate music he had just heard. At five, he was playing concerts! But Tony could not adjust to the world into which he was born. Janice educated herself on her son's condition. She encouraged and fought for his progress with authorities who were not willing to accept a blind, autistic child into their classrooms. Janice wanted to concentrate on his
instead of his
. The experts' reasoning on the abilities of savants is discussed in laymen's terms and is fascinating. Strangely, most savants are male. That too is explained - or at least why it is thought to be so. A
savant is the rarest form of savant syndrome. A child who displays an ability that is spectacular in light of his or her disabilities is a
savant. Tony is a
savant - one who exhibits an ability considered extraordinary even for a normal person.
anice not only nurtured Tony but also her second son Ray. He was born with Asperger's syndrome, a neurological disorder in which a child has normal intelligence but also a range of autistic-like behaviors. Ray also had Klinefelter's syndrome, involving a range of both physical and psychological traits. It is thought that the boys' father was exposed to Agent Orange in Vietnam, and that this is what caused the birth defects. Read
Some Kind of Genius
, an inspiring and heartwarming story of a mother and the son she loved too much to abandon to institutions.
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