Born on a Blue Day

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Hodder, 2007 - Asperger's syndrome - 284 pages
47 Reviews

'I was born on 31 January 1979 - a Wednesday. I know it was a Wednesday, becasue the date is blue in my mind and Wednesdays are always blue, like the number nine or the sound of loud voices arguing.'

Like the character Hoffman portrayed, he can perform extraordinary maths in his head, sees numbers as shapes, colours, textures and motions, and can learn to speak a language fluently from scratch in three days. He also has a compulsive need for order and routine. He eats exactly 45 grams of porridge for breakfast and cannot leave the house without counting the number of items of clothing he's wearing. If he gets stressed or unhappy he closes his eyes and counts.

But in some ways Daniel is not all like the Rain Man. He is virtually unique amongst people who have severe autisitic disorders in being capable of living a fully-functioning, independent life. It is this incredible self-awareness and ability to communicate what it feels like to live in a totally extraordinary way that makes BORN ON A BLUE DAY so powerful.

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User Review  - nancynova - LibraryThing

twenty-something British man with Asperger's autism and a savant (gifted with numbers) recounts his life and how he "sees" numbers as colors and patterns Read full review

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Daniel Tammet is a kind of genius with his capacious memory. His genome should be sequenced to discover the secrets of his abilities. What I found interesting about Mr. Tammet is that, although he is very good at memorizing and calculating things, his analytical and critical faculties are almost at zero. He says he loves history, is capable of memorizing a large number of historical facts, but because of a lack of critical analytical abilities can offer us no insights. He will never be a Toynbee or Fukuyama or Mumford or Huntington. Two aspects of human intelligence have been greatly enhanced in this person but not others. Finally, I would note that his descriptions of his abilities lead me to believe that his synesthesia seems to be a major reason for the enhancement of his memory and calculating abilities. Considering that one of the classic mnemonic techniques is to associate strong images or emotions with the things that you want to remember, it is not surprising that someone who does this naturally with no effort at all would be able to remember large quantities of abstractions. I would also note that human beings are particularly good at face recognition. Any human being can remember thousands of faces with no trouble at all. No one ever remarks on the extraordinariness of this ability. If we could harness the genetic programming that allows us to perform our face recognition feats to being able to memorize facts, theorems, etc., even the average person could perform mentally at the level of Mr. Tammet. 


Blue Nines and Red Words
Early Years
Struck by Lightning Epilepsy

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About the author (2007)

Daniel Tammet has been working with scientists to understand the implications of his condition for neuroscience and our understanding of consciousness. He also runs a web-based diagnostic site for people with autism and lives in Kent with his partner.

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