Born on a Blue Day by Daniel Tammer

One of the world’s fifty living autistic savants is the first and only to tell his compelling and inspiring life story – and explain how his incredible mind works.

BORN ON A BLUE DAY by Daniel Tammer
Simon & Schuster
ISBN 9780340899755

This the extraordinary autobiography of a man with a very rare form of Asperger’s Syndrome. A fractious baby, his parents strugg led to stop him crying and he would keep banging his head against the wall. The health visitor insisted that this was normal and that there was nothing to worry about.

As a toddler Daniel was fascinated by all the books his parents read, and loved the sound of the rustle of pages being turned over, but a door slamming was extremely upsetting. At the age of four he started having epileptic fi ts, one so acute he was rushed to hospital.

He went to a nursery school, but did not relate to the other children, preferring to feel the texture of the fl oor and the colours surrounding him. Th is continued through his schooldays. He would not make friends, but played by himself, exploring numbers and shapes and textures.

In 1988, the Olympic games were held in Seoul and he became interested in all the nationalities and knew the capitals of all the countries. His mathematical genius by now was prodigious – he could multiply any numbers in a matter of seconds but he explains that abstract ideas were impossible for him to appreciate, and he was nervous about going anywhere alone. By this time he was the eldest of seven children, all adored by his parents, but he preferred to be in his room while his siblings were playing outside.

Finishing school at 18, he applied to work abroad, and went to Lithuania for a year to teach English. Within weeks he was fl uent in Lithuanian and he began to relate to the students there. With newly-found competence in dealing with people, he met the love of his life, Neil, a very shy young man. Soon they were happily living together, Neil was a soft ware programme producer and Daniel would be housekeeper and cook the meals.

Asked to go to America to meet the savant Kim Peek who was the inspiration for the film The Rain Man they immediately bonded and became good friends.

By now Daniel was confident enough to broadcast on radio shows, then asked to go to Iceland where he learned the language in just a week.

Daniel speaks frankly about his diffi culties, and his pride in overcoming his ability to relate to others. This is a moving and unique story.

Ruth Gale

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