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  • Writer's pictureDiana de Avila

Words to Know

Updated: Aug 11, 2021

Are you an artist? A creative? A reader? A researcher? Or just plain curious? This blog is meant for you. Welcome to it!

It’s a person-friendly space on our Soldier, Sister, Savant website where you’ll find inspirational blogs on resilience and resolve as well as content related to the story matter of the book: savantism, acquired and congenital; synesthesia, digital art; the creative process—and more.

In this inaugural blog, we’ll introduce you to the vocabulary appearing in our book. Relax, please. There won’t be a test on these terms. We merely want to offer easy explanations related to a phenomenon that still defies our full understanding but that hints positively at the awesome power of human potential!

  • Acquired savant: a person who suddenly acquires a talent/skill they never had before they suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI) or a spinal cord injury. As the late Dr. Darold Treffert, the world’s leading authority on savantism aptly stated, “A savant is a person who knows something they never learned.” These include talents such as mathematical and calendar calculations, music, or artistic ability. These include rare living artists such as Daniel Tammet, Jason Padgett, Rodney Allen Bentley, Heather Thompson and Diana de Avila (the latter 3 are part of the Savant Artist Collective at

  • Congenital savant: a person born with an extraordinary talent/skill in math calculations, music, or art; Typically, this person is on the autism spectrum as well. Think Dustin Hoffman in the movie “Rainman.” Or watch Ben Affleck in the movie “The Accountant.” Both play congenital savants and are numerical geniuses with varying degrees of autism.

  • Synesthesia: a rare condition in which the senses are strangely mixed up. For example, the synesthete “hears” the colors in her head and “sees” sounds. An even rarer expression of synesthesia is driven by touch and temperature and causes sounds – much like an orchestra of xylophones warming up for a concert. In the book, synesthesia plays a key role for the artist, who is compelled to get the colors and sounds out of her head and onto her computer canvas.

  • Traumatic brain injury (TBI): This injury occurs from an incisive blow to the head or body. A mild TBI can affect the brain cells temporarily while a more serious TBI can cause long-term or permanent damage and complications.

  • Multiple Sclerosis (MS): This disease is a potentially disabling disease that attacks the brain and the central nervous system. In MS, the immune system attacks the myelin sheath protecting nerve fibers in the brain, causing the brain and the body to have communication problems. When diagnosed early, patients have many protocols to successfully manage and even stop the progression of MS. When discovered late, the disease can cause permanent damage.

  • Optic Neuritis: This condition results when inflammation and/or swelling damage the optic nerve, which is made up of a bundle of nerve fibers. The job of these fibers is to transmit visual information from your eye to your brain. A person who suffers from optic neuritis will experience pain with eye movement and temporary vision loss.

Stay tuned for future blogs!

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