Kim Peek is the real man whom the award winning blockbuster Rain Man was (loosely) based on, and although “Rain Man” (Raymond Babbit) was shown to have autism, Kim’s extraordinary skills and talents turn out to be caused by something different.
Laurence Kim Peek, affectionately named Kim by his family and friends, was born on November 11, 1951. Known as a “megasavant”, he had an exceptional memory, but he also experienced social difficulties, possibly resulting from a developmental disability related to congenital brain abnormalities. Although Peek was the inspiration for the autistic savant character Raymond Babbitt in the movie Rain Man, it is now thought that Kim instead had FG syndrome (as a younger man he was diagnosed with autism however).
FG syndrome (FGS) is a rare genetic syndrome caused by one or more recessive genes located on the X chromosome and causing physical anomalies and developmental delays. FG syndrome was named after the first letters of the surnames of the first patients noted with the disease. First reported by American geneticists John M. Opitz and Elisabeth G. Kaveggia in 1974, its major clinical features include intellectual disability, hyperactivity, hypotonia (low muscle tone), and a characteristic facial appearance including macrocephaly (an abnormally large head).
Sadly, Kim passed away on December 19, 2009 at the age of 58. His life has been documented multiple times in various forms, one of which was a great one called “The Boy With The Incredible Brain (Brain Man)”, a fun out-take of which you can check out below:
There’s little doubt Mr. Peek’s incredible talents are a wonder to behold and something that many medical professionals and scientists alike, continue to study. To marvel further take a look at the trailer to the Holywood Blockbuster, Rain Main and particularly Dustin Hoffman’s performance…
As we approach the anniversary of Kim’s passing, it’s a nice time to reflect on his ability to be compassionate despite his social difficulties:
“You don’t have to be handicapped to be different, ‘cause everybody is different.” – Kim Peek.
Has anyone said it better?
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