Wired Magazine: “Matt is a musical savant. The term savant dates from the late 19th century, when a small number of people in European asylums classified as feebleminded ‘idiots’ were discovered to have extraordinary, even uncanny skills. One had memorized The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire after reading it a single time. Others were able to multiply long columns of numbers instantly and factor cube roots in seconds, though they could barely speak.
When Matt was 3, he was diagnosed with a form of autism called pervasive developmental disorder. Autism and savant syndrome overlap, but they are not the same thing. Nine out of ten autistic people have no savant abilities, and many savants suffer from some form of neurological impairment other than autism. Savant syndrome itself is rare. The rarest of the rare is the prodigious savant, like Rain Man’s Raymond Babbitt, who could memorize phone books, count 246 toothpicks at a glance, and trump the house in Vegas. Darold Treffert, the leading researcher in the study of savant syndrome, estimates that Matt is one of fewer than 50 prodigious savants alive today.
But Matt is even rarer than that. While the IQs of most savants are below 70, he is highly intelligent. And while the musical prowess of savants is often confined to playing thousands of songs from memory in a stiff and mechanical way, Matt is a prolific composer and skilled improviser. With the precocious abilities of a savant and the melodic imagination of a seasoned musician, he has dual citizenship in two countries of the mind.”