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Many people have heard of and maybe even seen the movie "Rainman."  The movie was based on a real person -Kim Peek.   Kim is one type of savant (a person born with it), I am another type (that acquired abilities suddenly).   Mine hit me like a bolt of lightning and created a digital artist out of me.

I am one of less than 319 people in the world with Acquired Savant Syndrome - I was recently added to a registry along with my art and biography.


There are a few things that make my case even rarer:

1) I am a female,

2) mine is accompanied by Synesthesia.

3) I don’t have Autism and am not on the spectrum - my art awakening arose from an older worsening brain injury that manifested along with a relapse from MS.  It was a brain injury that happened in 1984 while serving in the US Army.  It all started with visual problems and vertigo in 2017. 

Accidental Artist Diana de Avila

The following is taken from the writings of Dr. Darold Treffert, who has studied autism and savant syndrome for over 50 years, serving as a consultant for the Academy-award winning movie “Rain Man” and appearing on CNN, the Today Show, Dateline, 60 Minutes, Oprah, The Discovery Channel and more.

“In recent years there have been a number of cases reported in which, after some brain injury or brain disease, savant skills unexpectedly emerge, sometimes at a prodigious level, when no such skills were present before injury or illness. This is called acquired savant syndrome. In many of these cases, the special abilities emerge following left hemisphere injury, particularly left anterior temporal lobe injury. Increasingly, there is speculation that these newly emerged skills, formerly dormant, are “released,” compensatory abilities rather than newly created ones.

Another way of looking at the congenital vs. acquired savant syndrome dichotomy, however, might be that all savant syndrome is “acquired” in that even in those instances where savant syndrome emerges in childhood, that emergence, or compensatory function, occurs after some CNS injury or disease process, just as with the acquired savant. It is just that such injury or disease happens at an earlier time in the congenital savant, i.e., during the pre-natal, peri-natal or post-natal periods of development. In the acquired savant, in contrast, the CNS injury simply occurs at a later period of life. While not universal, in both the congenital and acquired savant, such CNS injury or disease most often involves the changes in the left hemisphere with compensatory changes in the right hemisphere.

The fact that savant skills, entirely dormant before CNS injury or disease, can surface by some ‘release’ (disinhibition) process raises intriguing questions about dormant capacity existing within us all. The challenge of course, if that is so, is how to access that hidden knowledge and skill without some sort of CNS catastrophe. And work to achieve just that is now underway.” “The “Acquired” Savant: Could such dormant potential exist within us all?” Darold A. Treffert, MD

I’m sharing some resources below given to me directly from Dr. Darold Treffert.


My art continues to advance in complexity.

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