Original Chinese Language Text By: http://www.lzbs.com.cn/
(Translated by Adrian Chan-Wyles PhD)
According to a daily British tabloid newspaper (published on the 27.10.2007), there is a real life example of the hit film character ‘Rain Man’ living in the UK. The ‘Rain Man’ character suffers from Autism, but because of this cognitive disability, is also renowned as a maths genius. In fact, this fictitious movie character is very similar to British student Daniel Lightwing – who currently studies at Cambridge University. Daniel suffers from autism, but also has amazing mathematical skills. When Daniel visited China recently, he met a young Chinese woman, and they both fell in-love and decided to get married.
According to Daniel’s mother Caroline, when Daniel was very young, she found her son to be out of the ordinary, because he was able to recite the alphabet at the age of just 2, whilst at 4 years old, he could do complex mathematical calculations. When Daniel was four years old, he would stare at the kitchen and accurately report how many tiles were on the kitchen floor, the walls and the ceiling. He was even able to work-out exactly the correct number of bricks used to create a structure, and he did all this in his mind, without the aid of calculators or computers. In 2006, Daniel – on behalf of the United Kingdom – participated in the International Mathematical Olympiad competition, and won a silver medal.
However, Daniel, due to his autism, is very ‘incompetent’ in other ways, and cannot communicate with others in the normal way, or complete some simple tasks, such as making a cup of tea for himself. Daniel’s love for China began when he witnessed 6 outstanding Chinese competitors performing at the International Mathematical Olympiad. This experience prompted the 19 year old Daniel to take a year out from university, and spend it touring China – this is where he met his future wife – Xiao Yan. In just 4 months, Daniel learnt to read and write the Chinese language to a very precise degree – and speak fluent putonghua (i.e. ‘Mandarin’) as if he had been born in China. Prior to this he had studied simple French for 8 years – and achieved no progress. Daniel explained this by stating that he has no interest in France, and so could not be bothered to learn the language. People with autism often have problems feeling and expressing emotions – but Daniel explained that as soon as he met Xiao Yan (who was working at one of the hotels he was staying in, he immediately fell in-love with her, and she with him. Xiao Yan stated that she fell in-love with this hard-working British man – and after 6 months of dating, decided to get married.
According to the British medical experts, autism appears in boys around 4 times higher than in girls, whilst typically, autistic patients have problems communicating with others, and cannot usually understand the significance of emotions. This autistic disability was diagnosed by Hans Asperger, a paediatrician from Vienna, 50 years ago. The depiction of Raymond Babbitt in the film ‘Rain Man’ shows a man suffering from some form of ‘Asperger Syndrome’. However, medical experts say that autistic patients like Daniel or the ‘Rain Man’ character exhibiting a bizarre mathematical genius, is a very rare phenomenon.
Original Chinese Language Article: