Man with Asperger's syndrome through to quarter-finals of TV quiz 'Countdown'|
LONDON, UK: A man with Asperger’s syndrome is shaping up to be one of the British TV quiz programme Countdown’s most successful contestants, thanks to his incredible memory for words and numbers.
Jeffrey Hansford, 42, from South London, has won eight episodes of the popular Channel 4 show in a row after studying the dictionary every night since he was four.
The disorder – widely regarded as on the higher-functioning end of the autistic spectrum – became widely known after the 1988 film, Rain Man, in which Dustin Hoffman played a mathematically gifted man with Asperger’s.
“I’ve never seen the film, but I’ve heard about it and it is fair to compare me to Rain Man,” Hansford said, before reeling off the date and time of every Countdown episode he has appeared on so far. People with Asperger’s often find social interaction difficult but can have an incredible memory for, or even an obsession with, small details.
“Ever since I was little, I could never get any qualifications but I could always do complex maths or words,” he said. “I could read before my second birthday, type by the time I was three and from four and three quarters I’ve been reading the dictionary.”
Jeffrey is now through to the quarter-finals of Countdown after winning his eighth show on the afternoon of September 5.
He told Channel 4 staff about his disorder on his application form last spring. He was full of praise for how the production team looked after him. “They recognised me for my ability and not my disability,” he said.
The quarter-finals begin in late October. And if Jeffrey carries on with his winning streak, viewers can catch him in December for the final.
(Source: Daily Express, September 7, 2007)