Some Kind of Genius: The Extraordinary Journey of Musical Savant Tony DeBlois

Janice DeBlois and Antonia Felix

Rodale,  October 2005

Born weighing less than two pounds, and with blindness and other physical and developmental challenges to contend with from the start, Tony DeBlois seemed destined for a life of quiet struggle. And yet, long before Tony was diagnosed as autistic at the age of five, his mother, Janice, had vowed to ignore conventional "wisdom" and instead help her son explore his own innate abilities. Hoping to engage two-year-old Tony with his surroundings, Janice bought a toy piano at a garage sale and put it in Tony's room. For six weeks he put every combination of notes together. Then one day Janice distinctly heard the opening strains of "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star." Her faith in Tony's musical gift has never wavered since. Through courtroom battles and classroom battles waged to win rights for Tony and other disabled students, including Tony's brother, Ray, who has Asperger's syndrome, Janice nurtured and encouraged her special-needs sons to grow their unique talents.

Tony found his voice: He went on to graduate with honors from the Berklee College of Music, and today he knows more than eight thousand songs and can play at least twenty instruments. Still, his is no ordinary success story. Tony is a savant, with a narrow but deep mastery of music. Experts in this fascinating neurological phenomenon say that Tony is especially remarkable because his ability to improvise is exceptional even among savants.

With its compelling mix of brain science, Erin Brockovich-style drama, and inspiring personal achievement, Some Kind of Genius will hold special appeal for all who have seen Tony on the Today show or Entertainment Tonight; watched the Lifetime movie based on his life, Journey of the Heart; heard him in concert; or read about him in Dr. Darold Treffert's book, Extraordinary People.

hardcover | ISBN: 9781594862731 | Publication Date: October 2005

"Tony's story is an inspirational one that demonstrates dramatically what can happen with a focus on A-bility rather than Dis-ability. [Some Kind of Genius] provides a roadmap of love and advocacy for parents . . . in my search to better understand savant syndrome, it is from persons like Tony and his mom that I've learned as much about matters of the heart as I have about the workings of the mind."
--Darold Treffert, MD, author of Extraordinary People: Understanding Savant Syndrome