MEET DARRION SALAAM: 12-YEAR-OLD CALENDAR CALCULATOR PRODIGY
Children are the world’s greatest assets and they come in arrays of different gifts and talents. Some children are uniquely endowed with unusual and rare talents, such is Darrion Salaam, who possess a rare gifting with the ability to accurately tell the days of the week within seconds. How he does this is a mystery that marvels his parents and brother Omarion Salaam.
Darrion Salaam is in the 6th grade at Hannah Gibbons-Nottingham school in Cleveland, Ohio, United States. He lives with his parents and his elder brother. Darrion excels in Mathematics, Science, and sports. Darrion likes to win. He has shown great determination and a will to succeed at a very young age. He won a bikeathon for a community outing at 7 years old and was very proud of his achievement despite strict competition with children above his age while still in training wheels. He plays basketball and video games. Darrion is smart, fun, and quiet. His favorite book is Diary Of A Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules by Jeff Kinney. He believes that to be a good member of a community, one must be a good person and help other people in your community.
Darrion demonstrates a “never give up” mentality, even when faced with obstacles such as not being selected for a time on his first audition. He describes failure as an opportunity to try again. Darrion finds it difficult to ask for help from other and sees it as a weakness on his part. He is extremely skillful at Calendar calculation which is described as the ability to quickly name the day that a given date falls on. Research exists that suggests that savants are extremely skillful at calendar calculation. It is further suggested that souls who excel at calendar calculations rely on rote memory and the use of rule-based arithmetic skills. In an article published in 2007 and penned by Messrs. Daniel P. Kennedy and Larry R. Squire, “An Analysis Of Calendar Performance In Two Autistic Calendar Savants”, a calendrical savant or “calendar savant” is described as “someone who despite their intellectual disability (typically autism) can name the day of the week of a given date, or vice versa in a few seconds or even a tenth of a second..” So, is Darrion intellectually disabled? Is he autistic? Is he borderline autistic? Or does he have Asperger’s Syndrome? Darrion has not yet undergone the necessary testing to determine if he is autistic, borderline autistic, or has Asperger’s Syndrome. I can say that he is not intellectually disabled. Why? During my Zoom chat with Darrion and his parents, he conducted himself well, was articulate, and did not exhibit any health challenges.
Darrion is among a number of souls around the world who are Calendar Calculation geniuses. The club of Calendar Calculation Geniuses includes Cuba’s Yusnier Viera who is well known as “The Human Calendar” for his world record on calendar dates. He won a Mental Calculation World Cup (First Place Calendar Memory in 2010) and a Guinness World Record in 2006, 2009, 2010, 2011,2015 and 2018. Then there is Nigeria’s Siju Olawepo who also displayed this exceptional skill at the age 9. Are souls such as Yusnier Viera, Siju Olawepo and Darrion Salaam unique? How do we discover and nurture them?
According to the behavioral neurobiologist Anna Dubischar-Krivec, calendar–calculator skills tend to develop between the ages of 8 and 15.
Yasim Gina Salaam, pictured in the adjacent photograph, Darrion’s mother, revealed to Ola Akinwe, founder of Boys Mentoring Advocacy Network (BMAN) how Darrion’s calendrical talents was discovered by one of her son’s teachers at school. She remarked”
“Darrion was discovered with this exceptional gift at age 11, when he told her teacher the dates and days of the week she wore a particular outfit which astounded the teacher who called my attention to it”.
In his quest to help his son develop his uncommon ability, Darrion’s father reached out to Boys Mentoring Advocacy Network (BMAN) on how best he can nurture this talent and finding a special school, programs or scholarship opportunities that specializes in supporting and funding children with exceptional abilities. Darrion’s father, George Cortez, sent the following e-mail communication to BMAN:
“I have a son with amazing abilities to remember calendar dates and years — even future dates. He is in the 6th grade in Cleveland Ohio, reads at an accelerated rate, and I was wondering if I could find him a mentor! He just turned 12 and he is very shy and doesn’t speak very much! I have no idea how he does what he does or how it can be beneficial to him or to society. I know he needs to be helped along the way more than I can help him.”
Darrion is on a developmental plane that fosters his distinctive talent and helping him is very crucial at this stage. He is one of the Universe’s gifts to humanity. Humanity must rally around the Darrions of the world as their unique gifts will benefit each of us.
Ola Akinwe is a Philanthropreneur, Literacy Activist, Author and Boy-Child Social Revolutionist. He is the founder of Boys Mentoring Advocacy Network (BMAN). A registered Non-Governmental Organization offering mentoring, training, coaching, support system, success development programs to guide boys and adolescent males on their journey to a healthy, caring, respectful and responsible manhood. He has been passionately equipping, inspiring and teaching young minds to love, learn, live and leave a legacy of an exemplary life since 2007. Ola is a NIGERIA COORDINATOR-International Men’s Day and NIGERIA COORDINATOR –World Day Of The Boy-Child. Ola currently serves as the Nigeria Executive- Fathers and Family coalition of America (FFCA). He is an affiliate member of Nurturing Father’s Program-NFP (USA) and Manhood Academy (UK)