“Not All Late Talkers are Future Geniuses”
Even Thomas Sowell states that not all individuals with delayed speech development have Einstein syndrome. Other reasons may be hearing impairment, Asperger’s syndrome, autism spectrum disorder, hyperlexia, etc.
Thomas Sowell is an American economist, social theorist, political philosopher, and author of many child development books. The term “Einstein Syndrome” was coined by him in his book, Late-Talking Children, in 1997. In this book, he describes his own experience with his son who was first diagnosed to suffer from retarded development in childhood, but seemed to outgrow this condition. In addition, this book also has testimonies of 46 other parents whose kids had delayed speech as well.
His other book, Einstein syndrome: Bright Children Who Talk Late, is a collaboration between him and speech language researcher Stephen Camarata. This book summarizes the results from a sample of 239 bright, late-talkers as well as those from the Sowell’s previous group.
The essence of this book is that it highlights the similarities between exceptionally bright people with delayed speech development and Albert Einstein, whose speech was delayed until the age of five. Sowell also continues to discuss how late talkers are often inaccurately diagnosed as having autism spectrum disorder or Asperger’s syndrome.
He talks about assessing a child’s cognitive abilities rather than assessing his/her verbal skills. It highlights that some children might be shy or disinterested in the test and might not fare well in such tests, and thus, be falsely categorized to have a lower IQ.
Probable Signs of Einstein Syndrome
The information retaining capacity of these individuals seem to be exceptionally good. Their memory is almost eidetic. These kids exhibit exceptional mastery over instruments and gadgets, like computers, before their peers.
Outstanding Analytical Abilities
These kids usually love solving puzzles indicating that they have a highly analytical mind that loves to be challenged. The IQ in these kids is seen to be quite high. Parents have also reported kids to be fascinated with working of mechanical things.
The kids who are said to have this syndrome are usually very headstrong. If they don’t like something, they’ll let you know. They just can’t be persuaded to do something they don’t want to.
Highly Selective Interests
A large number of individuals with this syndrome are seen to be musically inclined or may have some other creative interests. They are thus seen to have unusual achievements in some fields, but completely inept in others.
Long Attention Span
Once interested in something, their concentration in it is a hundred percent, this is usually not seen in individuals of their age. They also seem to be completely absorbed in whatever they are doing.
Delayed Toilet Training
The ideal age by which a kid should be potty trained is between 22 to 30 months; but then again every child is different. Kids with this so-called syndrome seem to take a wee bit longer in getting toilet trained.
Delayed Speech Development
Kids with Einstein syndrome seem to have difficulty in verbal communication especially in the early years. Most kids seem to speak only few words by the time they are three, proper construction of a sentence by such kids is usually not before the age of four. Sowell has an interesting theory for it, albeit it’s a mere speculation at this point.
He claims that highly intelligent late talkers devote most of the capacity of the left hemisphere (of the brain) in developing their highly analytical skills, it is only after further development of the brain in the growing years that the brain can support the capacity to pick up languages. Their delayed speech can further result into other symptoms like underdeveloped social skills as well as feeling isolated from others.
Sowell also adds that the Einstein syndrome is mostly seen in males. He also states that the parents of such kids are usually seen to have very good analytical abilities or musical inclinations as well, indicating that this syndrome may have a genetic predisposition.
Although Sowell, in his books, points out the need to develop better tools that measure a child’s ability to comprehend, he doesn’t answer how this can be achieved. Experts have pointed out that delayed speech might not be the main criteria in determining if someone has this syndrome. Its main parameters include having high analytical abilities and extreme intelligence. His work has been criticized by many as it may lack conclusive guidelines that may help parents get a high quality evaluation for their child, calling it a “passionate indictment” of a professional in the field of speech therapy and child psychology.