Flo and Kay Lyman
Flo and Kay Lyman are the world's only female autistic savant twins.
Florence & Katherine special ability relates to memory: they can name the day of the week for any date, past or future. This phenomen is also known “calendrical savantism“. They also have prodigious autobiographical memory and can recall what they had for breakfast on any given morning, what they were wearing, what the weather was like, and what they did that day. That is why the Lyman Twins often refer to as "the Rainman Twins".
Their phenomenal memory is so unique that it does not only concern the events that happened directly to them but also to general events. For example, they can name the release date of every version of a song they've heard. The twins also remember every fact they learned about the people they have met. What is even more impressive about the Lyman twins, is that they seem to speak in an almost synchronic manner.
As children, Flo and Kay’s abilities where neither recognized nor understood. Nobody around them made an attempt to find out what was going on in their minds. Like many mothers of other autistic children in the 1960s, Flo and Kay’s mother, Eve, felt embarrassed and tried to shelter her children at home in Irvington, New Jersey. The moment they fought back from the mistreatment by their mother, she would lock them in their room. Their father always pretended as if nothing happened.
One night their mother went to the kitchen and turned the gas on to kill her children. Their younger sister Jane Consoli managed to call the police, but the officers only let her off with a warning. Their mother did express great remorse at what she had done. All of the Lyman sisters describe Eve as being depressed, struggling with alcohol addiction and suffering from suicidal thoughts.
According to Consoli, their parents never spoke about the condition. Her sisters were ridiculed, and a lot of people would make fun of them. She was the one to come to their rescue. Flo and Kay say that there were a few people in the neighborhood who weren’t mean to them. Since the death of their parents, Jane was the one looking after her sisters. Unlike their parents, Consoli decided to open Flo and Kay to the world.
Since they were children, Flo and Kay have made charts which catalog what their favorite celebrities wear every time they appear on television. According to the twins they’ve kept somewhere between 900 and 10 000 charts over 34 years since 1974. One of the celebrities whom they followed was their local news man Dave Wagner. Flo and Kay have been cataloging Dave’s clothes ever since his first appearance on TV. They even kept the same charts for his wife and children.
Wagner was the man who ended up discovering their talent and sharing it with the world. Back in 1996 Dave made a news story about the sisters’ color charts for his local news show. According to Wagner, the twins first contacted him when he was a disk jockey. At that time he believed to have a vast musical knowledge, however Flo and Kay amazed Dave. They were able to recall information about any record he asked them about much faster than an ordinary human could.
Dave got a phone call from Flo and Kay one day and was bombarded with questions about his life. At first he was taken aback with their manner of speech, but quickly befriended the twins. Dave personally took the sisters to the world expert on autistic Savantism – Dr. Darold Treffert. Darold confirmed their status as the only identical twin sisters Savants in recorded history.
The Lyman twins place a great deal of value on routine. According to Conoli, their daily activities are all strict to the time. For example, they get very upset if a program they are following doesn’t come up on time or doesn’t air at all. Any changes to the daily routine upsets them greatly. When “The $100 000 Pyramid” show was unexpectedly taken off the air, Flo and Kay got depressed, wouldn't talk to nobody, had no appetite and couldn’t fall asleep.
Darold Treffert says that the sisters have to listen to certain music, watch certain shows, and make certain phone calls. If someone tells them they can’t do that anymore, Flo and Kay will only become more anxious. When they wouldn’t get an answer from the channel about the return of the “The $100 000 Pyramid” program, the twins would pray for it in church. Sadly, their prayers weren't answered.
Fascination with Dick Clark
The host of $25,000 Dick Clark was their idol and friend for many years. Flo and Kay's obsession with Dick Clark was so intense that their brother-in-law once observed: “They need food, they need air, and they need Dick Clark". Dick was a great friend who answered their letters and sent them cards every year on their birthday. He arranged to have the sisters visit him at his home and took their calls whenever they phoned. On 2004 Clark had a stroke and Flo and Kay were devastated and regularly prayed in their room for his recovery.
During that period of time, and before Dick was fully recovered another tragedy struck the twins: their younger sister, died suddenly of a heart attack. Jane’s death was an enormous pain for the tween as she was, as they put it, their guardian for much of their adult lives. The tweens phoned Dick Clark, who comforted them. Dick also mailed them a sympathy card encouraging them to keep their positive lives and remember that their sister is in heaven - watching over them.
Although Flo & Kay are not celebrities in the common meaning of the word, they in fact gained a special public recognition - mostly after the documentary "The Rainman Twins" was released. Their fans and admirers hold pages in different social media channels, like this Facebook page, to track their lives and to express their appreciation for the twins. That been said, such pages are not just to celebrate the twins life but also to refute false claims about the twins, like the one which was spread during 2020 saying Flo & Kay have died.
What does it means being a Savant?
Autistic Savant is someone who possesses extraordinary skills not exhibited by most persons. Only 1 out of 10 autistic people will be considered as savant. While the Rainman twins hold extraordinary memory capabilities, Savant abilities come in many forms where the most common involve mathematics, memory and music.
Here are several examples for other savants: