Non-algorithmic access to calendar information in a calendar calculator with autism

J Autism Dev Disord. 2006 Feb;36(2):239-47. doi: 10.1007/s10803-005-0059-9.


The possible use of a calendar algorithm was assessed in DBC, an autistic "savant" of normal measured intelligence. Testing of all the dates in a year revealed a random distribution of errors. Re-testing DBC on the same dates one year later shows that his errors were not stable across time. Finally, DBC was able to answer "reversed" questions that cannot be solved by a classical algorithm. These findings favor a non-algorithmic retrieval of calendar information. It is proposed that multidirectional, non-hierarchical retrieval of information, and solving problems in a non-algorithmic way, are involved in savant performances. The possible role of a functional rededication of low-level perceptual systems to the processing of symbolic information in savants is discussed.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Algorithms*
  • Aptitude*
  • Autistic Disorder*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Reaction Time
  • Time Perception*