Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 379
Since Born on a Blue Day: Inside the Extraordinary Life of an Autistic Savant is an autobiography, the themes are based on the life experiences of the author, Daniel Tammet, while growing up as an autistic savant.
Tammet was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome, which is a high-functioning form of autism. While he has some cognitive disabilities, he also has some extraordinary mental abilities rarely found in the general public. Specifically, he has synesthesia, which is a condition in which one's senses blend together. In his case, numbers and letters have extra qualities; namely, different colors, sizes, and textures, which aid him in memorizing and calculating tiny details and long series of information. As a young child, he showed no interest in the social play and games of other children; instead, he preferred to retreat to his own world, where words, numbers, and tiny details filled his mind and kept him feeling safe and happy. As a teenager, Tammet remembers being bullied and feeling sadness because he wanted to develop relationships, but he didn't know how.
While his differences isolated him from other children, through his life experiences he slowly learned how to overcome adversity, develop his social skills, and use his special abilities in positive ways. Through this, he eventually learns to accept his differences and love himself.
Tammet explains that he and his younger brother grew up with this condition before it was well-known and understood (Asperger syndrome wasn't recognized until 1994), which made him feel even more alone. In the introduction, he writes:
By writing about my own experiences of growing up on the autistic spectrum, it is my hope that I can help other young people living with high-functioning autism, like my brother Steven, to feel less isolated and to have confidence in the knowledge that it is ultimately possible to lead a happy and productive life. I'm living proof of that. (p. 12)
Tammet's message is clear: he doesn't want kids like him to struggle and feel that there is no end to the loneliness. Instead, he wants them to find hope and inspiration in his story. For the rest of us, he wants to share what it feels like to grow up being different and inspire us to accept others' differences as well as our own.
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