Kim Peek (November 11, 1951 – December 19, 2009) was a unique autistic savant who was able to display many abilities associated with autistic savants - the inspiration for the movie named Rain Man and perhaps the most famous autistic savant of modern time. He had a photographic memory; could read an average size book in about one hour and could recall around 98% of the same; he could recall names of the around 12,000 books; he had fantastic mathematical abilities. Due to autism related complications, Kim Peek suffered from many disabilities. For instance, he could not walk until he was four years of age and could not normally walk for the rest of his life. He also had social skills issues. Kim Peek did not have any corpus callosum - he was born without one. The corpus collosum connects two parts of the brain - the two lobes of the brain. He also had damage to the cerebellum and had no anterior commissure (or precommissure), a bundle of white fibers, connecting the two cerebral hemispheres.
Known as "Kimputer" to many, his knowledge-library included World and US History, People and Leaders, Geography (roads and highways in U.S. and Canada), Professional Sports (baseball, basketball, football, Kentucky Derby winners etc), the Space Program, Movies and movie themes, Actors and Actresses, the Bible, Mormon Church Doctrine and History, Calendar Calculations (including a person's day of birth, present year's birthday, and the year and the date the person will turn 65 years old so he or she can retire), Literature/Authors, Shakespeare, Telephone Area Codes, major Zip Codes, all TV stations and their markets. He could identify most classical music compositions and tell the date the music was written and the composer's birth date and place of birth and death. Kim read (and could recall) some 7600 books. He also kept current on world, U.S. and most local events by reading newspapers, magazines and by listening to the media. He also described the highways that go to a person's small town, the county, area code and zip code, television stations available in the town, who the person's pay their telephone bill to, and describe any historical events that may have occurred in their area. His expertise includes at least 14 subject areas."Kim Peek - a description by his father
Kim was born with a water blister on the right side of his skull. Doctors also found that his brain spheres were not separated. They opined that Kim will remain a retarded child and would not be able to do much. They were right to a great extent as Kim continued to be different - he could not develop normal motor abilities; he could not dress himself and even failed to button his shirt; and could not figure out the light switch. However, his underdevelopment in certain areas eclipsed his stunning performance in certain other areas. Kim's father recalls that he started reading when he was hardly 16-20 months old, and by the time he had turned 3, he asked the meaning of the word "confidence". It was found that Kim was able to recall almost word-by-word whatever he had read. By 1969, he was working at a day store for adults with disabilities, and he would prepare pay checks without the help of any record or calculator. Kim took an extended leave from the store to move around the country and the communities to give lectures to persons affected with disabilities. He was accompanied by his father as well as his mother. He lived a hard life.
Kim is generally held to be autistic, despite people claiming otherwise. In a 2008 study, it was held that he had FG Syndrome and not Autism. However both conditions are seen to be related to the X Chromosome (and by association Fragile X Syndrome) and therefore it is likely that Peek was both Autistic and had FG Syndrome. This would explain his Autistic symptoms and certain inconsistencies that developed in the adjustment period that people are jumping on. Indeed, as late as 2006 when he made any appearances, he described himself as an Autistic Savant.
Quotes about him
- Dr. Darold Treffert, an authority on autistic savants and a consultant on the Rain Man movie had once remarked: "About once a century comes along a truly stellar savant, an already rare condition, and Kim is in that category ... Kim's memory is not only deep, it is also very wide which is very unique among savants" The Original Rain Man
- His father, Fran Peek describes Kim Peek in these words: "Kim is not behaviorally autistic. He has a warm, loving personality. He truly cares for people and enjoys sharing his unique skills and knowledge capacity. Known as Kimputer' to many." The Real Rain Man
- With his reading speed, Kim Peek could read more than 1.5 million pages of English Wikipedia within a year, and shall be able to remember almost all the contents. "Imagine knowing someone who had the whole of Wikipedia in their memory and could roll of fact after fact".Kim Peek - Amazing Memory
- Rain Man *Titular Hero
- Weber, Bruce. "Kim Peek, Inspiration for 'Rain Man,' Dies at 58". The New York Times. December 27, 2009.