About Insular Talent

Insularity is the modern term for a particular intelligence profile, formerly known by the discriminatory name “idiot savant” or the misleading term savant. Insular ability occurs when there is an uneven ability spectrum. Insular individuals do not therefore have a balanced, evenly distributed intelligence, but they have insular talents; often they are autistic.

What is an island talent?

People who want to know more about the quality of the gift should consult a doctor so that specific tests can give an accurate indication of the island gift. In many cases, however, the person concerned shows more than just a high level of talent in one area. See AbbreviationFinder for abbreviations related to Insular Talent.

Insular ability, i.e. high performance only in a small sub-area of ​​cognitive performance, is a phenomenon that is mostly associated with intellectual disability and the consequences of psychological developmental disorders. If these mental deficits are very pronounced, they are often cases of autism. About half of the gifted islanders are autistic.

Insular ability does not automatically mean ingenious ability. If an individual is only below average in intelligence, but still achieves average performance in a certain area, then it is an isolated talent. There are also the truly spectacular island talents who achieve ingenious or extraordinary achievements in a small area.

These areas include musical talent, rapid language learning, mathematical talent, exceptional long-term memory, photographic memory, and perfect hearing. Little is known about the origin of insular giftedness, but this phenomenon appears to be related to male hormones, as the majority of insular gifted individuals are male. Autistic among the island gifted often exhibit a specific form of autism called Asperger’s Syndrome.


The often unknown causes are as varied as the island talents. Insularity is an imbalance in cognitive ability. So there are cognitive structures that inhibit certain intelligence performances, but are responsible for a better overall performance of the cognitive human being.

Certain filter functions in the brain filter out unimportant information from memory and thus help in everyday life. With certain isolated talents, however, the lack of such filters results in above-average performance in a small area. Autistic people with Asperger’s syndrome have a severe impairment in the area of ​​social interaction.

Apparently there are processes in the brain that have these negative effects in the social sphere, but in turn reinforce certain insular gifts. The biological causes are not clear. Some have insular abilities as a developmental disability since childhood. Very few patients have island abilities as a result of an accidental brain injury. In these rare, exceptional cases, certain injuries lead to certain island abilities.

Neurological peculiarities, which are usually not satisfactorily described in individual cases, therefore cause isolated talents. The strange role of autism and male hormones is still a mystery. Exactly this connection is probably the most important and most common.

Symptoms, Ailments & Signs

Insular talents can occur in autistic people or as a result of mental disabilities or psychological aberrations. The signs are recognizable by a strong psychological and mental limitation. In comparison to this, the island of talent actually looks like an island of normality.

In one area, those affected perform comparatively well or surprisingly for their other level of performance. The one-sided performance peaks, which are positive in themselves, must also be viewed as a symptom. Nevertheless, the negative symptoms of insular talent are likely to predominate.

The people affected by an insular gift can be gifted below average and mentally or mentally retarded. Many sufferers suffer from Asperger’s Syndrome. You are autistic. The symptoms can be assigned to the respective underlying disease.

Notable positive symptoms of insular ability may include a surprisingly high level of language ability or mathematical ability. Some sufferers have a precise long-term memory. Others stand out with a photographic memory or perfect hearing. Besides these surprising abilities, the abilities in all other areas are refined and far below average.

It is striking that predominantly men are affected by the island gift. Whether the present symptoms are due to a congenital developmental disorder, an accident or brain injuries has not been sufficiently clarified. Typical signs of insularity can include social misbehavior, cognitive problems, limited communication skills, or aggression.

Diagnosis & course of disease

The diagnosis of isolated talents is very difficult because the clinical picture is inconsistent. A classic image is that of the distracted professor. This is based on the popular but erroneous notion that extremely intelligent and educated people manifest deficits in social interaction. In fact, truly gifted people are equally gifted and socially unremarkable.

Highly gifted children are therefore not conspicuous in school lessons and in the social dynamics of the class community. On the other hand, children who have social problems and learning problems often have below-average intelligence. Then parents and psychologists look for isolated talents in which the support of these children is particularly worthwhile. Experienced psychiatrists diagnose insularity, they also diagnose autism and know how to separate these related phenomena. Independent diagnoses from different psychiatrists make sense.


Since there is no average island talent when it comes to other symptoms and limitations, possible complications are always measured by the accompanying circumstances. However, since the majority of people with insular ability suffer from some form of autism, complications often arise from the typical effects of these developmental disorders.

Autistic people are dependent on lifelong support due to their severely limited ability to communicate and their lack of opportunities to master their everyday life independently. Because misunderstandings are common in dealing with others, autistic people can be hurt by their own social missteps or the missteps of others. This often results in aggression and outbursts of anger, some of which escalate due to a lack of articulation.

Island gifted people with Asperger’s Syndrome have the aggravating problem that their condition is not apparent to outsiders. They do show behavioral disorders and also motor disorders in the broadest sense. But these are not that serious. Accordingly, they are often confronted with a situation in everyday life that requires them to behave in a socially appropriate manner, which they can only do to a limited extent.

Evasive reactions and behavior that seems strange are alien to other people and can isolate the individual if they are not already isolating themselves. Since many island gifted people are less intelligent and use their cognitive resources primarily in the area of ​​their talent, other skills and social behavior are hardly learned. Here, too, lifelong support from outside is usually necessary.

When should you go to the doctor?

Basically, an isolated talent is no reason for a doctor’s visit. The talent can be promoted and supported without further medical knowledge. People who want to know more about the quality of the gift should consult a doctor so that specific tests can give an accurate indication of the island gift. In many cases, however, the person concerned shows more than just a high level of talent in one area. Often there is also an autistic disorder that needs to be investigated and treated. Therefore, a doctor should be consulted as soon as any unusual behavior is noticed. If there are disturbances or irregularities in the emotions, this is considered unusual.

If social contacts or physical proximity are rejected, the observations should be discussed with a doctor. If manners cannot be learned or if social conflicts repeatedly arise, it is advisable to consult a doctor. Social norms are often disregarded or not understood by those affected. If those affected show underdeveloped behavior in other everyday areas of life in addition to their insular talent, a visit to the doctor is recommended. If speech disorders are noticed or if there are irregularities in cognitive processing when acquiring other skills, a doctor should be consulted. If the daily demands cannot be managed without help, a doctor should be consulted.

Treatment & Therapy

Treatment is mostly behavioral therapy. A person’s insular talent can be suppressed, ignored or encouraged. In the past, treatment often consisted of suppressing the insular gift. The idea was that a person’s development would become more normal and balanced if they renounced special whims.

That didn’t work in most cases. The modern treatment is therefore based on a targeted promotion of the island talents. Patients receive targeted support in their area of ​​talent. In addition to promoting special talents, which are usually highly individualistic, healthy social interaction is also therapeutic.

This includes an understanding and loving family that ideally has even completed special training programs in dealing with the island gifted. Equally important are the social interactions at school and at work. Island talent requires a workplace where they can show off their special talents on the one hand and receive equal and comprehensive support in other areas on the other.

Various forms of animal therapy also contribute to successful therapy. Observing birds in the wild and recognizing species by sound and plumage is a form of therapy. Grooming a horse or dog is another option. In the field of animal therapy, a lot depends on the individual characteristics of the patient. A balanced diet with as many different food sources as possible of animal and vegetable origin ensures that the patients are optimally cared for.

Outlook & Forecast

The island gift cannot be cured or treated, which is why there is no prospect of a cure. In addition, this is not necessary from a medical point of view. In many cases it is not at all desirable – if only because of the sometimes outstanding abilities – to want to cure the savant syndrome.

The prognosis for the affected people depends more on the accompanying circumstances. So many savants are autistic. This is also not curable and the prognosis only allows the statement that those affected will be dependent on help for the rest of their lives. Improvements in social behavior, impulse control or intellect are very difficult to bring about and can never fully compensate for autistic disorders.

Island gifted people often attract public interest because of their abilities. Depending on the person and the environment, this can be perceived as very positive or very negative. Some savants thrive on their insular talent, though that is only the case with those who have a truly outstanding talent. The insular, where talent is relatively defined (low IQ but average performance in one area), does not have this opportunity.

In the case of cognitively and socially unrestricted insular gifted individuals, the prognosis is also unnecessary. You do not have to fear any limitations in life that would be medically relevant.


In modern societies with a high life expectancy, the proportion of dementia diseases increases steadily with age. Various studies have shown that a well-trained brain does not ultimately overcome its own dementia, but offers enough resistance to delay the onset of biologically caused dementia by a few years.

Mental fitness is health. Training is just as important for the brain as it is for the muscles and the musculoskeletal system. For these reasons, island talents are not neglected, but are also encouraged mentally in their areas of talent.


An insular talent, also known as “Savant Syndrome”, refers to the phenomenon that individuals can demonstrate exceptional performance in specific areas despite a developmental disorder or mental or cognitive limitation. About 100 so-called savants are known worldwide, of which more than half are autistic. From this one can deduce that there must be a connection between an insular gift and autism.

Follow-up care in the medical sense is not possible, since it is a matter of congenital neurodiversity, which is therefore not curable. However, since it is possible to learn how to deal with the disability in therapy, supportive services intended to maintain the status quo after the end of therapy are advisable in most cases. Which support service is the right one depends heavily on the individual client.

You can do that yourself

The framework in which self-help is necessary or possible in the case of an existing island talent depends on the accompanying circumstances. In view of the fact that in rare cases those affected have almost or quite average (social) intelligence, help is usually limited to everyday support from third parties. A few cases of people with Savant Syndrome have shown that targeted everyday help already consists of promoting these people in their talents and passions. This increases their self-esteem – and attitude towards life, and quite a few of those affected have also achieved some fame within the framework of their special abilities.

Cultivating other hobbies and interacting with animals have also proven beneficial. Through contact with non-human beings, social deficits due to mental disabilities can be partially cultivated. In this respect, an environment that enables these things is a good help for those affected.

Insularly gifted people who, apart from their talent, have hardly any intellectual and thus social skills are often not able to help themselves. They can sometimes be helpless without outside help. Accordingly, they need comprehensive care in everyday life, which also extends to basic care (dressing, preparing food, feeding if necessary).

Insular Talent