Friday, February 23, 2007

The real-life "Rain Man"

Remember the character of Raymond babbitt played by Dustin Hoffman in the 1988's Oscar winning movie of "Rain Man" ? The character was inspired by the real life 55 years old Kim Peek. Kim Peek's brain has only one hemisphere compared to a normal brain that has two.

He was born in November 11 1951, and was diagnosed as mentally retarded at birth. He was not able to walk until the age of 4 but was gifted with the ability to read at age 2. He can read left page with left eye and right page with right eye simultaneously with astounding speed of eight pages in 53 seconds. He read as many as 8 books a day and is able to retain 98% in memory.

Kim also has unbelievable photographic memories. He knows detailed histories of all countries, knows every USA president's birth date, death, and history of their life. He knows all the words in every Shakespearean play. He can also recalled thousand of zip codes, phone codes, dates, facts, and figures. When attending a symphony, he knows every note of the music and knows whether a musician makes a mistake.

According to his aging father, Fran Peek, "Kim is not behaviorally autistic. He has a warm, loving personality. He truly cares for people and enjoys sharing his unique skills and knowledge capacity. Known as 'Kimputer' to many, his knowledge-library includes World and American History, People and Leaders, Geography (roads and highways in U.S. and Canada), Professional Sports (baseball, basketball, football, Kentucky Derby winners etc), the Space Program, Movies and movie themes, Actors and Actresses, the Bible, Mormon Church Doctrine and History, Calendar Calculations (including a person's day of birth, present year~s birthday, and the year and the date the person will turn 65 years old so he or she can retire), Literature/Authors, Shakespeare, Telephone Area Codes, major Zip Codes, all TV stations and their markets. He can identify most classical music compositions and tell the date the music was written and the composer's birth date and place of birth and death. Kim has read (and can recall) some 7600 books. He also keeps current on world, U.S. and most local events by reading newspapers, magazines and by listening to the media. He reads constantly. He can also describe the highways that go to a person's small town, the county, area code and zip code, television stations available in the town, who the person's pay their telephone bill to, and describe any historical events that may have occurred in their area. His expertise includes at least 14 subject areas."

Kim has travelled extensively with his aging father to share his skills, about human brain's potential, and the the message on respect for differences in others. His message to the people in the world is "Learning to recognize and to respect differences in others and treating them like you want them to treat you will bring the peace and joy we all hope for. Let's care, share - be our best!"

A person with "mental retardation" going around the world spreading message of goodwills and love, while perfectly healthy human beings invoking the name of God to glorify message of deaths, intolerances, and hatreds !

God does indeed has a very funny sense of humors ! Why are people born with differences ? Is autistic savant a form of mental retardation or special gift ? Come to think of it, human perception is at times, scary. Will we ever be able to accept the differences we are born with, with dignity and love ? For more information on Kim Peek, please visit HERE and HERE .

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