A genius savant may be something of a misnomer. Geniuses are usually people with very high intelligence. A savant is usually someone who has extraordinary mental abilities in a particular area. The individual on whom the movie “Rain Man” was based is a savant. Those who are rated geniuses are usually capable of living independently. A savant may not be able to do so.
The genius savant is probably most accurately a “savant.” Not every savant has other developmental issues, but most do. Most people think of an autistic person when they think of a genius savant. They think of a person who does not interact normally with others, who has obsessive-compulsive behaviors that make the person difficult to live with, etc.
A good example of a genius savant is Daniel Tammet of England. Tammet can do lightning-fast mathematical calculations in his head. Another might be able to recall a piece of music perfectly, after hearing it only one time. Most humans are not able to even approach these feats of mental skill.
The genius savant may be born that way or may experience some sort of brain injury that leaves behind this result. Daniel Tammet suffered an epileptic seizure when he was four years old. Afterwards, he found he had an amazing mental ability to do math exercises and count huge numbers. As an example of the handicaps many a genius savant has, Tammet cannot drive or even walk on the beach. His compulsion to count everything precludes him from either activity.
The genius savant is usually left to pursue whatever fields are open to someone with his peculiar abilities, assuming he or she is able to hold down a job. However, if the person is unable to care for himself and live independently, parents will need to make arrangements for this situation early on.
It is not known exactly what causes a person to be a savant, and why some types of brain injury may play a role. Scientists studying the phenomenon say it could be that a brain injury forces one side of the brain to take on the duties of the other half and the savant syndrome is the result. The best treatment available is occupational and life skills therapy, intended to help the person live as independently as possible.