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June/July 2008 Issue
Living Without Books: High-Functioning Autism
If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to be autistic, Born on a Blue Day (Simon & Schuster) by Daniel Tammet will give you a rare insider’s view. Tammet has both synesthesia and high-functioning autism (Asperger syndrome), a rare combination of conditions that gives him an extraordinary ability with numbers, along with poor social skills, hypersensitivity to sensory stimulation and a need for rigid order. Seeing numbers as patterns, textures and colors, Tammet can quickly solve complicated mathematical problems by simply visualizing the solutions. He became well known after setting a record for memorizing over 22,000 digits of pi. He is also able to master new languages from scratch within a week. In simple but compelling style, Tammet tells the story of his childhood and young adulthood, how he related to his parents and siblings, how he struggled to fit in with his school classmates and how he made his journey to eventual independence, finding love and Christian faith on the way. This book is more than just fascinating—it’s inspiring.