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Robo-Kid Phenomenon

Autor: Octavian Herta 13 Dec 2005 - 00:00
Robo-Kid Phenomenon

Dragos I. is autistic, has an IQ of 125 and shocked the Romanian medical system. Even though he is not completely isolated from the world, this 6-years-and-5-months-old kid lives in his own Universe. He hardly speaks, is somewhat autistic, seems to be retarded, but, after a closer look, he proves to be quite a prodigy.

I have seen him more than once, but it wasn’t until yesterday that I realized that I was facing one of the most special beings that I had been offered to see in my entire life. Dragos doesn’t know the result for 2+2, but he will surely know the one of much more complex equations. He hardly speaks, but he knows by heart all the capitals of the world. No one taught him how to read or write, but he "devours" entire books.

EARLY SIGNS. Cristina and Mihai, Dragos’s parents, live in a beautiful house in Ramnicu-Valcea. After many years of work, they have got to have almost everything they had wanted: a beautiful house, great things and, above all, a great child. For the past 12 years, Cristina has been working in the maternity as a pediatrician. She likes what she does and says this is what fits her. This is how she discovered Dragos, more than 6 years ago. He had been in the maternity for 10 days and he seemed like a special child ever since. "I used to watch him sleep. Suddenly, I realized he had turned his head from one side to the other of the pillow. Babies don’t do that ever. They stand still. That was the first sign of the fact he wasn’t normal", Dragos’s mom says.

PARENTS. Mihai and Cristina try to calm Dragos down.

When he was three weeks old, the child started to show a deep interest in paintings, in the colors. He used to turn his head towards a painting and stared at it for a long time. This was also when he started to differentiate the TV stations by their signs. When the TV wasn’t on the station he had wanted, he started crying until things turned his way.

When he was still to be 6 months old, Dragos started to browse the magazines he found in the house. It was strange that he always held the magazines in the way he should, as if he was reading them, Cristina says. "He has never played with the toys we bought for him, like all children do. He was only interested in the TV, the books and the magazines. He started to get stereotypical. When we went into the park, he used to choose two trees and walk only between them. One day, my sister-in-law from Timisoara came to visit us and reckoned he was a special child", Cristina says.

AUTISM. Dragos continued to amaze his parents. He managed to find the hotel where they stayed without any clue or address. Moreover, he used to find the right room only by his own instincts. At his 2nd anniversary, Cristina’s sister-in-law called them at Timisoara, because Dragos was about to be examined by the best neuro-psychiatrist in town. The doctor only needed 30 seconds to tell Cristina her child had great problems. The diagnose was language retard and autism. "The doctor told me we had come very late. I started to cry. I had brought him to all kinds of psychiatrists before that had told me it was all alright. Later, after the visit to Timisoara, I found out that the diagnose was invalidated. My son wasn’t really autistic, but there were only some elements", the mother says.

HE LEARNED THOUSANDS OF COMBINATIONS. There were some visits to Timisoara, to the Faenza House, a centre realized by a Romanian-Italian company with PHARE funds. This is where all the autistic children in the country are treated. Dragos started to make some progress. He became more sociable, and some of his stereotypes started to disappear. He took an IQ test during one of these meetings. The result shocked every one: Dragos had an IQ of 120-125, taking into account that a normal person has an IQ between 100 and 115. This is when the exact diagnose was established: language deficiencies with elements of autism.

Recently, Dragos shocked his parents. After he took a few minutes to look at a calendar for 2005, the little boy started to babble some dates: March 23, December 6, August 3. Nobody understood their meaning, until one of the parents asked about the weekday of a certain date. "One of us asked about the weekday of December 31 this year, to see when the New Year’s Eve will be. It was when we heard Dragos say Saturday. Which is true. We looked at each other and then in the calendar. We started to ask him about other dates. He answered every time without any mistake. We were shocked, he knows the entire calendar", Cristina says. Even I checked this. I couldn’t believe it. The child had memorized the entire calendar. There are thousands of combinations and he had memorized them. It is incredible. The father tells me there is only one similar case in Romania - an autistic boy in Timisoara with an IQ of 160, who memorizes the final caption of each movie and manages to say it all one day after viewing it.

ROBO-KID. The wonderkid relaxing.

HE KNOWS ALL THE CAPITALS OF THE WORLD. Dragos knows by heart all the capitals of the world. He learned them by himself using a Globe in his room. Easy, you might say. However, the cities on that Globe are written in Russian. No one has ever taught this child how to read or write. Dragos reads books and magazines without any difficulties and he memorizes poems with many verses and entire fragments and after reading them only once. Moreover, he knows by heart the table of multiplication. In exchange, he cannot say the result of 2+2. The reason: he is yet to learn the tables of addition and subtraction. He knows all the menus of the mobile phones and TV sets.

IN THE USA, HE WOULD HAVE BEEN TAKEN BY THE CIA. An oversimplified explanation of the performances of the little boy in Ramnicu-Valcea is that one part of brain overdeveloped and the other one atrophied. "The psychologists told me that if this child was born in America, he would have been taken in the special labs of the secret services. If CIA took him to a military base, he would have memorized everything in a second. He has a great memory. The psychologists also told me they had no idea about the things going on in this child’s mind. One friend of mine made Dragos’s astrograph. She told he would become an international Olympian, a genius. I heard Einstein was also autistic", the little boy’s mother adds.

Translated by SORIN BALAN
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