Six Centuries of Diamond Engagement Rings
Using Special Abilities
RUTH LITTMANN STAFF WRITER
Three Days Only: October 13, 14 & 15
im Peek met Dustin Hoff-
man a decade ago in Los
Angeles where the celebri-
ty was preparing for his
role as a mentally disabled adult
in the movie Rainman.
Mr. Peek took the actor by the
shoulders and drew him so close
their noses touched.
But when it comes down to
day-to-day tasks like cooking and
dressing, Mr. Peek has trouble.
A congenital brain deformity left
his motor and conceptual skills
severely lacking. Although Mr.
Peek's photographic memory en-
ables him to retain unlimited
Joyce Weckstein, Kim Peek, Fran Peek and Robert Howard mingle after the speech.
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"Dustin Hoffman," he said.
"From this time on, you and I
shall be as one."
And so it was. In the years
since Rainman won 1988 Acad-
emy Awards, Mr. Peek gained no-
toriety as the man who inspired
writer Barry Morrow's story
about an autistic individual with
On Oct. 9, Mr. Peek and his fa-
ther, Fran, addressed an audi-
ence of 200 at the Maple-Drake
Jewish Community Center. The
event, sponsored in part by the
JCC and The Jewish News,
. aimed to heighten awareness of
programs the community offers
to mentally challenged individu-
als and their families.
The father-and-son duo didn't
focus on the deficiencies of Mr.
Peek's condition. Instead, they
capitalized on Kim's "special abil-
ities." Just ask Mr. Peek who
wrote the opera La Traviata , and
he'll give you name of the com-
poser (Giuseppe Verdi), along
with the year and place of its de-
but (1853 in Venice).
Ask him on which day of the
week Halloween will fall in 1997,
and he won't even take a fraction
of a second to answer "Friday."
Quiz Kim on practically any-
thing, and he'll tell you what's
what. One woman at the JCC
asked him what event coincided
with her husband's birthdate of
Feb. 20, 1938. Kim began recit-
ing Adolf Hitler's Reichstag ad-
amounts of historical and statis-
tical data, his intelligence quo-
tient registers only 72.
Kim's parents knew something
was peculiar when he was nine
months old. Their baby's head
was unusually large, he cried a
lot and each eye moved indepen-
dently of the other.
Nevertheless, father Fran
Peek describes Kim as "a gentle
child." Although a neurologist di-
agnosed him as severely mental-
ly disabled, Kim loved books.
When his parents left him alone
on the couch, book in hand, the
toddler seemed to be reading.
In fact, he was.
Before long, Mr. Peek could re-
cite pages of the books he had
read. He never looked at any-
thing twice. By age 3, he was us-
ing the dictionary. Now, at 43,
Mr. Peek says he has scoured
some 7,500 tomes.
"It's OK to be different," Fran
Since March 1989, father and
son have addressed more than
400,000 people across the nation.
Together, they aim to change peo-
ple's attitudes toward mental dis-
Disabled individuals should
not be kept apart from the rest of
society, they said. Fran attribut-
es much of his son's development
to interaction with the world out-
side of institutions.
"His social skills have increased
primarily because he's come out