Daniel Tammet, bestselling author and autistic savant, took part in a live online Q & A with Talk about Autism on 20 September 2012. He answered questions about his life as an autistic savant and his books. You can read the transcript below.
Daniel Tammet is hailed the world over for his extraordinary mind and unique intelligence shaped by high-functioning autistic savant syndrome. He perceives words and numbers as shapes, colours, and emotions, and holds the European record for reciting the mathematical constant Pi to 22,514 decimal places. For Tammet, numbers are beautiful and illuminate our everyday thoughts and lives. Tammet’s exceptional abilities in mathematics and linguistics are combined with a singular capacity to communicate what it is like to be a savant. His idiosyncratic world view gives us new perspectives on the universal questions of what it is to be human and how we make meaning in our lives.
Thinking in Numbers, his third book, is a collection of 25 beautifully written essays that explore ‘the science of imagination’: mathematics. From sheep counting in Iceland to Anne Boleyn’s sixth finger, Tammet shows that the fascinating possibilities of maths are infinite. He draws on personal experiences, too, comparing himself and his eight siblings to the decimal system, and describing childhood attempts to mathematically model his mother’s unpredictable behaviour. He shares his unusual insights with a remarkable clarity of prose and helps us to see the world with fresh eyes.