The special skills seen in child prodigies are also seen in children with autism, according to a new study. Joanne Ruthsatz, lead author and assistant professor of psychology at Ohio Sate University’s Mansfield campus, conducted a study using eight child prodigies; one in math, one in art, four in music, and two in more than one area.
Prodigies were given standardized and ASD tests
The young people completed standardized tests and were interviewed extensively. They were also given the Autism-Spectrum Quotient assessment, which measures the number of autistic characteristics possessed by the student.
The link between prodigies and autistic children was strong
Of the eight students in the study, three were diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. When compared to a control group, the child prodigies had moderately elevated scores of autistic traits. Also, about half of the prodigy group had a family member with ASD.
"The link between child prodigies and autism is strong in our study," said Ruthsatz. "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."
Prodigies scored high in all predictable areas
The prodigies had higher intelligence scores, not surprisingly, but also had higher working memory and attention to detail. Working memory allows people to hold several pieces of information in thought and apply those later to a task.
"Overall, what we found is that prodigies have an elevated general intelligence and exceptional working memory, along with an elevated autism score, with exceptional attention to detail," explained Ruthsatz.
Source: MedicalNewsToday, Intelligence