The Savant Syndrome

The Savant Syndrome

The Savant Syndrome

intelligence
Showing posts with label Ellen Boudreaux. Show all posts

Ellen Boudreaux

Ellen Boudreaux is a blind autistic savant with exceptional musical abilities. 
She can play music perfectly after hearing it just once, and has a such a huge repertoire of songs in her head that a newspaper reporter once tried to "stump Ellen" by requesting that she played some obscure songs and failed. 
Ellen knew them all.
Ellen has two other savant skills that are unusual. 
First, despite her blindness, she is able to walk around without ever running into things. 
As she walks, Ellen makes little chirping sounds that seems to act like a human sonar.
Ellen has an extremely precise digital clock ticking in her mind. 
To help overcome her fear of the telephone, Ellen's mom coaxed her to listen to the automatic time recording (the "time lady") when she was eight. 
From then on, Ellen knows the exact hour and minute, any time of the day without ever having seen a clock nor have the concept of the passing of time explained to her.
“With a song in her heart, music is her bridge to the world” the heading reads in the Sacramento Bee newspaper on January 18, 2.001 written by Bob Sylva. 
The writer tries to “stump Ellen” with request after request and cannot. 
“By any measure of musical virtuosity and genius, this is a remarkable performance. 
For Ellen, it’s a form of child’s play” the writer concludes.
Ellen is blind, with an astonishing musical ability, superior spatial sense and remarkable memory. 
Her sense rhythm is pervasive. 
She is driven by time as if a digital clock is incessantly running in her head. 
But, of course, she has never seen one. 
At precisely the moment her favorite news program begins she will bound into the room from wherever she is, flip on the TV and the announcer will start the program, as if on clue from Ellen. 
Ellen plays piano, guitar, and now the keyboard and soloist with a Rock and Roll band in her hometown that has become well known in the area. 
Among these multiple instruments and many musical interests she has developed a vast repertoire. 
It is very hard to stump Ellen, as the newspaper writer found out in a flawless recollection by Ellen of a variety of tunes and styles ranging from the Supremes to “Dueling Banjos” (in which she plays both parts) to “Ellen’s tour de force orchestration of ‘Whole Lotta Love’, the Led Zeppelin apassionata in which she replicates, uncannily, every voice, instrument and studio sound effect.”
Ellen is a startling example of the rare yet reoccurring triad of blindness, mental handicap and musical genius.
Ellen was born prematurely in 1.957 and developed the blindness of prematurity (retrolental fibroplasias) following birth. 
Ellen developed slowly. 
When she was 4 months old doctors confirmed what the parents suspected she was blind.
From the very beginning she was aware of large objects, wall, fences and buildings from a distance of 6 feet or more and insisted on going to them and touching them. 
Her father noted that from those early years on she has been able to walk in thick, strange forests without running into trees. 
As Ellen learned to navigate she made a constant little chirping sound, like her own form of personal radar.
At age 4½ psychological testing provided a score of 40 on the Vineland Social Maturity Scale which suggested an estimated IQ, at that time, of between 30-50. 
The family became very determined to find the best educational and vocational opportunities for their daughter and enrolled her in the San Juan Unified School District in Fair Oaks, California. 
Ellen did extremely well in school and has proceeded through a series of steps in the special education program, including now Adult Special Education programming. 
Speech therapy began in 1.983 and progress in language development was impressive as well, with no sacrifice of her artistic skill.
Ellen’s musical skill and memory are prodigious. 
Her interest in music began as early as 6 months of age. At about age 4, 
Ellen surprised her mother by picking out some tunes on a small electronic organ. 
At age 7, a teacher advised her parents to get Ellen a piano. 
They did and the music has poured forth ever since. 
Ellen now constructs complicated chords to accompany melodies she hears on the radio or the stereo. 
She has transposed the orchestra and chorus of Evita to the piano with complex, precise chords. 
She reproduces the crowd and mob sounds with intense dissonances using both hands. 
That rendition is an impressive, and lengthy, performance.
Ellen taught herself guitar by spending countless hours going up and down each string, memorizing the tones that each fingering produced and experimenting with chords. 
She is driven by and enamored of rhythm of any type, form or origin. 
She loves to improvise and after listening to almost any album will begin to play chords with it, improvising very unusual but striking accompaniments. 
She will play what she has heard in one form such as jazz, then in another style, perhaps classical. 
She will transpose rock and roll to a waltz form in three-quarter time. 
She is fascinated with radio and television commercials and will immediately transpose those to the piano as well.