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Some Kind of Genius: The Extraordinary Journey of Musical Savant Tony DeBlois    by Janice DeBlois & Antonia Felix order for
Some Kind of Genius
by Janice DeBlois
Order:  USA  Can
Rodale, 2005 (2005)

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* * *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

We'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.

Some 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 A-bilities instead of his Dis-abilities. 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 prodigious 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 talented savant. Tony is a prodigious savant - one who exhibits an ability considered extraordinary even for a normal person.

Janice 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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