He’s all of seven but knows many things that are beyond the comprehension of children of his age. Meet Vishal
For the casual bystander, he is a child wonder who knows so much. For parents of other autistic kids, he is an inspiration who fills them with the belief that they too can tap the hidden potential in their own kids. Meet seven-year-old Vishal, an autistic savant, who makes us wonder at the mysteries of human consciousness. As defined by medical jargon, ‘savant’ is the term given to persons who ‘know without studying’.
Like other autistic kids, Vishal Anand is socially reticent. But hand him a laptop and assure him of your sincerity, and with mother Vidhya’s reassuring touch, he keys in his thoughts that reveal an incredibly rich intellect that races over strategies for harnessing nuclear energy, tapping renewable energy from organic material, travelling to Mars, and other fascinating quests. In fact, he corresponds with researchers such as Abhishek Shivakumar (a research scholar at Sweden’s KTH University) on his scientific musings. Not strange then that Vidhya is trying to obtain for Vishal the opportunity to test his amazing theories in a lab.
Vishal’s first book
Alongside scientific revelations, Vishal pours out intriguing thoughts in a fascinating stream of words. He had his first book published a year ago, when he was just six — Meadow Of Moods. Laced with introspection and spontaneity, this book throws light on mood swings and other torments that autistic children grapple within their minds, which the world around them fails to comprehend and empathise with. And as it is with Vishal’s mind, his book is a curious mix of emotional musings, a child’s reaction to the joy of nature, and scientific musings, such as on the physics of circular and vertical motion, which even many college students would not have pondered on. Says Mythili Chari, founder director, Institute for Remedial Intervention Services, who happens to be both a mentor and fan of Vishal, “He teaches us to approach life like him — with fun and enjoyment.”
But how can someone know something he never learnt? Dr. D Treffert who has studied the amazing minds of savants for decades, ascribes this knowledge to ‘genetic memory’ and advises parents of autistic kids to focus on the special gifts or abilities in their children, which would eventually help normalise their lives. As for Vishal, he has a dream. “By 2014, I will present it (his energy theories) at IISc (The Indian Institute of Science).”