Monday, November 24, 2008

An Astounding Musical Savant's Keys to Life

Thirteen year old Rex Lewis-Clack is a medical wonder who is doing what his parents were told he would never do. Born with a huge cyst on his brain, doctors said he would never walk, talk, or anything much. He had autistic symptoms growing up, hated being touched, his hands were constantly in fist formations, small noises would make him scream, and he still has great difficulty with basic tasks.

On his second birthday, his father bought a piano for him. That's when things really changed. The instant he touched the piano, something was unlocked in Rex. He quickly used his now opened hands to stretch across the piano keys, and search for notes, learn songs, and play. He is fascinating to watch play piano. In a sense he's a young Mozart - he can automatically replay a tune just after hearing it once. This is just as incredible - he's been blind since birth!

His strong affinity for music is a rare trait for autistic savants. Rex is astonishing to watch perform so effortlessly, yet, when away from the keys he has trouble putting a shoe on, or telling the difference between the shape of a circle and square. In the video you will see him play songs he hasn't heard before. He has a rare gift to imitate sound, but as you'll see, to also be creative, and mimic voice and language. A musician plays and sings Ave Maria for him, and he not only plays it back but sings it, in Latin.

Piano keys seem to be the keys to unlocking his doorway to normal human behaviors. He amazes as times passes and it will be interesting to follow his emotional growth as his brain finds ways to interpret and react normally to his living environment.

Here's the original 60 Minutes story. The video is also on this site, plus other videos of a younger Rex.

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