EXPIRED: 12/19/09 – Kim Peeks, 58, was born to Mormon with a head that was 30% larger than normal. As a baby, he cried. A lot. And when checked by doctors, they discovered a blister inside his skull that had damaged the part of his brain that controls language and motor skills.
Medical professionals suggested he’d be mentally retarded for life and that he be placed in an institution. The Peek family refused. And they never looked back.
By the time Kim was 16 months old he had taught himself to read and at the age of 3 he started to use a dictionary. And although he was unable to walk until he was 4 years old (big head, remember?) he memorized he entire Bible by age 7.
He would read a book, memorize it,and then place it on the shelf upside down so that he would know that he already read it. It would take him about one hour to read a book, and he would read the left page with his left eye and right page with his right eye so that he could in essence read two pages at once. Despite his incredible talent, he still scored well below average on IQ tests. Basic motor skills eluded him.
It was finally determined that Peek was a savant. Savant syndrome is a condition in which an individual may have lagging development on one or more areas, and extremely advanced development in others. This is thought to be due to developmental compensation of the brain. Kim Peek was considered a “mega savant” due to the wide variety of abilities he mastered.
Screenwriter Barry Morrow met Peek and offered the family to write his story. The Peek’s weren’t interested but Morrow did anyway and 5 years later, Rainman was written anyway. The movie was beloved and won several awards.
Morrow gave Peek the Oscar statue he won for the best picture and Peek was known to take it to the many appearances and speaking engagements that he booked. The appearances are said to have boosted his morale and the morale of the attendees.
In 2004, NASA began to study Kim Peek’s memory, due to the fact that his abilities were improving with age. Scans were made of his brain to help understand the changes that occurred in his brain as he got older.
His death was of a cardiac arrest and not at all attributed to his condition, said his family.
He’d read over 12,000 books.