Behavior: They All Have High Hopes

A unique school develops the gifts of the mentally impaired

The idiot savant has a long tradition in the U.S., much of it as victim. A typical 19th century savant, Tom Bethune was sightless and barely able to grunt monosyllables. But he had the ability to play complicated classical piano pieces by ear, and promoters exhibited him in vaudeville as an amusing freak. Since that time, savants -- retarded and autistic people who have inexplicable gifts, usually in art, mathematics and music -- have been the objects of diversion and exploitation. But at a unique institution called Hope University in Anaheim, Calif., they are being trained to reveal their surprising gifts...

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