By Darold Treffert, MD
Henriett Seth F. is a Hungarian Autistic Savant who is an accomplished, highly recognized, writer, poet and artist. Her book Autizmussal onmagamba zarva (Closed into myself with autism) is available in Hungarian. That book was published in 2005 with the support of the Autizmus Kutatocsoport Gyermek – es Ifjusagpszichiatriai Ambulancia (Hungarian Autism Research Group) and the Nemzeti Kulturalis Orokseg Miniszteriuma (Ministry for the National Cultural Heritage). A second book, Autiznus—Egy masik vilag (Autism—Another World) was published in 2006 in the anthology New Galaxy (in Hungarian: Uj Galaxis) University of Pecs.
Henriett Seth F was born in Hungary on October 27, 1980. She is an autistic savant writer, poet and artist. In 1985 Henriett had immunothrombocytopenia from which she fully recovered after treatment in Budapest, SOTE.
Henriett could speak by the age of 9 months, but kept repeating that which she heard (echolalia). There was also ritualistic behavior, such as opening and locking doors, which was difficult between the ages of 3 and 6. She also did not like coarse foods so she would eat only pudding and drank only cocoa. Henriett slept little and was restless.
In 1987 all the primary schools in her town refused her admission application because of her communication problems; she also did not make eye contact. She was placed in a music and art class.
At age 8 Henriett’s knowledge was excellent; she knew Attila Jozseff’s book of poems. She played flute at age 8 and played contrabass at the age of 10-12, and until the age of 13 she was in many concerts in the Garrison and Soliders of Club (in Hungarian: Helyorsegi Klub). At age 9 she was composing poems. At the age of 10, Henriett was the winner of a short stories competition. Hanriett’s first poem was published in the periodical Lyceum Paletta in 1999. In 2000, at age 19, Henriett was the winner at the XIIth International Literature Competition in the poem category, and won first prize in the poem and novel category in the XIII International Literature Competition in 2001. Her prize winning entry, Process of Writing (In Hungarian: Az irova valas folyamata – Hogyan legyunk sikeres irok?) was published in the periodical New Face (Uj Arc).
In 1995 she began attending Geza Gardonyi Cistercitan High School where she specialized in art, where her memory was a real asset to her art ability. Henriett won the Geza Gardonyi Prize at the age of 18 after being a top student for four years, and also because of a her work being shown at the House of Arts gallery (Muveszetek Haza) between the ages of 16 and 18. She had a Raven IQ score of 140.
Henriett was a student at Eszterhazy Karoly College of Psychology and Socialogy but her communication and her behavior problems were such that in 2002 she was “pensioned with a diagnosis of high functioning with autism, immunthrombocytopenia, hyperthyroidism and endometreosis.”
Also in 2001, Henriett learned the Gypsy language during two months, and she had a successful language examination on Eolvos Lorand University of Budapest (ELTE).
In September, 2005, Henriett was invited by Sandor Friderikusz, the famous Hungarian filmmaker, to participate in a documentary titled Freedom of Speech (Hungarian: A Szolas Szabadsaga). In this film Henriett discusses her autism and her art work.
Henriett’s second book, Autism—Another World, was a candidate for the Peter Zsoldos Prize of 2006, by the Alliance for Hungarian Science-Fiction literature because this second book is a short story science-fiction work. Since 2005 Henriett has also written many articles about her autistic life and art work in the periodical Rainman (Hungarian: Esoember). Henriett is currently writing her next book, which will be a book of poems.
She showed her newest art work in Brody Sandor Public Library (in Hungarian: Heves Megyei Brody Sandor Konyvtar), in June 2007.
More information about Henriett can be found on her site at http://www.savant.5mp.eu.