Two autistic savant readers

J Autism Dev Disord. 1994 Aug;24(4):501-15. doi: 10.1007/BF02172131.


Two young autistic children of normal intelligence were tested repeatedly for their reading ability. Their comprehension was appropriate for their developmental status, however, they had reading speeds that were considerably faster than those of their age-matched normal controls. Randomizing word order, and thereby reducing meaningfulness, resulted in an equivalent reduction in relative reading speeds for the younger autistic subject and his control. For the older of the normal children, the effect of randomizing word order was very marked, whereas its effect was minimal for the older of the two autistic boys. The results are regarded as an indication that efficient grapheme-phoneme conversion is a modular component of the reading skill and this transcoding process is primarily responsible for the fast reading of the autistic children.

MeSH terms

  • Aptitude*
  • Attention
  • Autistic Disorder / diagnosis
  • Autistic Disorder / psychology*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Intelligence
  • Male
  • Phonetics
  • Reading*