He can also speak 10 languages as well as his own invented language, "Mänti".
Daniel’s mathematical abilities are so extraordinary that it took a long time for them to be recognised. He struggled at school. He got a B at Maths GCSE. He wasn't diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome until three years ago, at 25. Sooner would have been better "both for me and my parents".
“As a child I didn't speak very much. I used to put my fingers in my ears to feel the silence. It was hard for me to find my voice because I was, for so long, absorbed in my own world," says Daniel "I had to teach myself to look in somebody's eyes," he explains. "Before that, I used to look at their mouth, because it was the part of their face that was moving."
Daniel's condition brings him great riches: his visualisation of numbers means he can perform extraordinary mathematical achievements. Daniel's world is a rich and strange one, where every number up to 10,000 has colour, texture and emotional resonance. More remarkable still, he has described it all in Born on a Blue Day, his memoir of his life with a rare form of Asperger's; consciousness-raising is part of his motivation for writing his book. "My condition is invisible otherwise."
Scientists at California's Center for Brain Studies were amazed when, two years ago, they discovered his facility for discerning prime numbers. They had assumed he must have been trained to do it. But to him, it is more like an instinctive process.
"The scientists and researchers come to me so I can help them design the parameters of their experiments," he says. It is important to Daniel that he uses his gifts responsibly, perhaps for science, perhaps for teaching: he is already devising a new system of visualisation to help with language learning and dyslexia.
Daniel was lonely. Forming relationships was difficult. "I was desperate for a friend and I used to lie in bed at night thinking about what it would be like. My younger brothers and sisters had friends and I used to watch them playing to try to work out what they did and how friendship worked. Then, I would have traded everything for normality”.
Falling in love with Neil has changed everything. They have been together for six years. Now his emotional life is more like everyone else's. "Neil is very patient with me, and the routines I need to have to help with my anxieties," says Daniel. "I don't know what I'd do without him."
Generally, Daniel feels he is progressing all the time towards "outgrowing" his autism." He is getting steadily better at social interaction. "Every experience I have I add to my mental library and hopefully life should then get easier." I've learned that being different isn't necessarily a bad thing." In this, he seems to sum up the progress we all hope for.
Read the text about Daniel Tammet. Then read through sentences 1 to 7 and choose the option (A, B or C) which best expresses the information in the text. Write the letter in the corresponding box on the right.
Question 0 has been completed as an example.
0. Daniel’s natural talent for mathematics …
A was acknowledged three years ago.
B took some time to be acknowledged. X
C was recognised when he was born.
1. When Daniel was a child, …
A he couldn’t hear and had to read people’s lips.
B he had to learn to make eye contact. X
C he was quite extroverted.
2. The book Born on a Blue Day …
A is a remarkable way to teach Maths.
B is about Daniel’s rich family background.
C is meant to increase awareness. X
3. Daniel’s gift for mathematics …
A is a natural ability to him.X
B is the result of long practice.
C has required expert training.
4. Daniel is determined to …
A become a scientist.
B get into the teaching profession.
C put his talent to good purpose. X
5. When Daniel was very young he really wanted to …
A make friends. X
B play with his brother and sister’s friends.
C understand his friends.
6. Neil is so important for Daniel because …
A he doesn’t complain about Daniel’s special needs. X
B he was a friend from his childhood.
C they have similar interests and routines.
7. In general Daniel ...
A complains about his condition.
B feels proud to be different.
C is changing for the better. X