It happens a lot. People find out your child is on the spectrum and at some point the conversation turns to all the stories about savants. Savants, generally speaking, are those on the autism spectrum with an unusual gift or skill that is clearly above the norm. A British study found that about 28% of people on the spectrum fit into the savant category.
I wouldn't classify Sam in the group but he has done some nifty things like teaching himself to read when he was three with no help from anyone. Hand your cell phone over to him and he will be doing all kinds of crazy things with it. Actually, anything electronic or gadgety interests him. When he was five I had to make him stop changing my desk top around...he would get on the computer and rearrange, add and hide stuff all the time. He's been making "movies" using the computer for eons. Before puberty became his new bff he could sing on perfect pitch and has always loved music and responded to it. His capacity to remember dates is seemingly infinite.
But drawing and creating has always been his thing. He's always been very artistic combined with a strong storytelling fascination. Over the years he has created these elaborate characters and story lines; sometimes completely from his imagination and other times inspired by something he's read or seen or played with. A personal favorite was Pinocchio Marlin who ran for president and had a sister named Alice. Birdstar Runner was an ode to Homestar Runner. For a while he was creating story boards that told the story of Adam and Eve. These Days Old Timey, The Fouch Kids, SamToons....comics, movies, tv shows, storeis, and apps...you wouldn't believe the things he's created and saved to my computer.
It's also how he learns to process different social situations. This is a drawing he made after he experienced some rude behavior from another boy at a soccer game. (Obviously spelling is not his strong suit :-)
A few months ago he started taking art lessons. He's doing well and really enjoys it. Thankfully his art teacher quickly realized Sam's bent for comic strip type art and has used that to teach some basic elements and rules of drawing. Sam's biggest need is to sloooooooow down and take his time. He has so many ideas going through his head that they all try and come out at once.
Right now he wants to be a cartoonist. I wouldn't be surprised if that happens.
This is one of my favorites ever...we're big book people and story tellers in our house.
Remember how I mentioned that dates stick in his head? Well Sam thinks every holiday should be celebrated and if it's on the calendar then he is bound to mention it. So, you know, happy Boxing Day to all our Canadian friends and what have you.
A few years ago he asked Rob if we were going to celebrate Hanukkah. Rob explained that we weren't Jewish so...no. Sam then asked if we were going to celebrate Kwanzaa. Rob explained that we weren't African American so...no. Sam was pretty quiet for a few minutes and then announced that he was going to create a new Holiday...Kawanzakah...and everybody could celebrate it.
Some of his newer stuff he's done in his art lessons: