The Einstein-Syndrome Daughter

Tell me if this sounds like a child you know:

  • Delayed speech development
  • Usually boys
  • Highly educated parents
  • Musically gifted (families)
  • Puzzle solving abilities
  • Lagging social development
  • Delayed toilet training

wikipedia

Stacking cups

She could put together a puzzle of the United States when she was 2.  Ernie would sit and stack yogurt cups, alone, for up to 45 minutes when she was 2 1/2 (and really started that game after her first birthday).  Ernie started speaking English at 3 1/2- before that it was an amalgamation of made up signs, made up words, and 10 words others could recognize.  Oh yeah, and she didn’t even begin to potty train until she was 3.  (And at nearly 5, she still has occasional accidents NEXT to the toilet.  Grr.)  Both her dad and I have 5 years of college education, and are both musicians.

So, whatever Einstein Syndrome is, I know it’s HER.  It’s not a medical term, it’s a description coined in the book  of the same name, penned by Thomas Sowell in 2001.  There are a group of kids out there who have been labeled either retarded or seriously delayed, because they test poorly by  choosing not to do activities they aren’t good at. Einstein is a famous example- he was labeled as retarded early in his life, but in reality had amazing intelligence and developed at a different pace than his peers.

From that same Wikipedia synopsis: “The book details a series of high achieving scientists and musicians all of whom spoke late and displayed “autistic like” features (long attention span at young age, strong will, ability to play alone, delayed language/social skills) which not rarely are seen in children with extremely high intelligence.”

I think as a society we are becoming increasingly obsessed with childhood “milestones” and whether or not our kids live up to the averages.  The burgeoning number of labels for children (ADD, ADHD, Asperger’s, Oppositional-Defiant, etc.) , the increasing number of children diagnosed as “on the autism spectrum” makes me believe that we are simply finding labels for a basket of behaviors that tend to go together.  Whether or not the child needs medication, intervention, or just space and time to grow at their own pace I’m not qualified to say.

However, if you know a child that displays a large number of the Einstein Syndrome characteristics, I’d definitely recommend this book.

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7 Responses

  1. Have you read the book yet? Did it help with figuring out good activities for her?

  2. This is a great book. It helped me get through some doubts with my son(now 12). I’m going through it all over again with my daughter(age four)! Google late talking children and you’ll see a link, probably on the first page, for late talking.org(I think). They have some wonderful at home speech therapy suggestions…pretty detailed and extensive. We have used this in the past, and are using it with my daughter. It works well! Let me know if you can’t find it and are interested.

  3. This sounds a lot like autism spectrum as well. Most kids on the spectrum have very specific talents that they excel at faster than others. My son is this way. His talents amaze me and I try my best to give him the time and encouragement to go far in those areas while still helping him to achieve “normal” skills (like how to talk to people, how to tell when someone is upset with them, how to speak correct English, etc). He didn’t speak understandable English until he was 4-5 and at 9 he still has great difficulty writing proper English sentences. It’s as if I tried to write in Spanish. I could get the words right, but the order and the tenses would be all mixed up.

    The best thing I learned to do with him was to figure out how his brain processed information and help interpret new things him. As he got older I would show him how and why I was interpreting it and he is slowly starting to be able to do that for himself now.

  4. Oh, and I should say that he is a fully functioning 4th grader who has excellent grades. He’s just a bit “quirky.”

    • I hear what you’re saying. So many people give me blank stares when I talk about Ernie- but if you work with her in a group, or for more than a few hours, you’ll see it. She’s a brilliant girl, and I’m just learning how to help her best, and how to teach her….I’m her mother, I’m her first teacher. I want to do a good job! :)

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