Born on a Blue Day Summary

Daniel Tammet

Born on a Blue Day

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Born on a Blue Day Summary

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Born on a Blue Day: Inside the Extraordinary Mind of an Autistic Savant (2006) is a memoir by British author Daniel Tammet about his life as one of the few people with a severe form of autism who are able to live a fully independent life. The book explores how Tammet sees the world. His unique symptoms involve seeing numbers as shapes, colors, and textures, and the ability to perform complex calculations in his head and speak new languages fluently from scratch. He is considered a savant, a condition made famous by the Oscar-winning movie Rain Man. Exploring the diversity of the human mind and what links us all and makes us human, Born on a Blue Day was widely acclaimed as one of the best first-hand works on living with autism; it is frequently assigned reading for those studying to work with people on the autism spectrum.

Born on a Blue Day tells Daniel Tammet’s story from a young age to the present, exploring the obstacles he faced to get where he is now. Born in the late 1970s in England, before savant syndrome was commonly known, he was the first-born son, initially adored and encouraged by his parents. He soon developed various idiosyncrasies unusual for a child his age. As an infant, he cried endlessly, and his parents had trouble calming him down. He developed the habit of banging his head against a specific wall in the living room until he was moved. As he got older, he was anti-social, preferring to stay in his room in solitude than join in the noisy, physical play with other local children. As he started his school years, he found comfort in the school routines, but the slightest deviance from an established routine caused him severe stress. In school, he discovered his lifelong fascination with numbers and the unique way he sees them in the form of shapes and colors. This is called a synesthetic experience; the association of a visual aid with a number allows Daniel to have an incredible talent for learning and solving math problems. He also has a natural gift for learning new languages fluently and quickly.

As Daniel gets older, he continues to pursue his passions: numbers, books, and language. During adolescence, he realizes that he wants to have a relationship with someone who understands him; he also discovers that he is sexually attracted to other men. Being gay combined with his lack of social skills makes it difficult to make or keep friends until after he graduates and takes a volunteer position in Lithuania. The nine-month commitment in Lithuania teaches him a lot about what he is capable of and what he wants in life. During his time there, he meets several other gay men and becomes close friends with them. He becomes somewhat more comfortable with meeting new people and dealing with unpredictable situations without having his family around. By the time he leaves Lithuania and returns to England, he’s matured and feels ready to take on whatever the world throws at him. Soon after returning home, he meets Neil in an online chatroom. The two go out on dates and quickly fall in love. Daniel decides to move in with Neil; together, they create an Internet startup to teach foreign languages. This allows Daniel to earn an income while working from home in an environment he can control.

As Daniel continues to mature and becomes a public figure, he shows the world that autistic people and savants are capable of far more than most people believe. At a charity event, he memorizes more than 22,000 digits of pi. He’s contracted to star in an American documentary, which means he’ll have to fly to America and travel the country for several months with the crew. Despite this being an immense change for him, he decides to do it. There, he meets with prominent scientists in the field of autism research, visits Las Vegas, plays blackjack, and meets the man who inspired the story of Rain Man. The documentary is a success, and Daniel is invited to appear on David Letterman’s show before returning to his life in England. In England, he continues to work with researchers, becoming a public speaker. Over the course of the book, Daniel transforms from a child who struggles to relate to others to a passionate and charismatic man who is a strong advocate for what he believes.

Daniel Tammet is a British writer, translator, and activist for people on the autism spectrum. He is best known for his memoir, Born on a Blue Day, which was named a Best Book for Young Adults by the American Library Association. He has released five nonfiction books, a collection of poems and a novel in French, and six essays. He has also collaborated on works in the areas of songwriting and short films and created the original language Mänti in 2006. In 2012, he was named a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.