Late Talking Children – The Einstein Syndrome

The Einstein Syndrome

The Einstein Syndrome The Einstein Syndrome, coined by Thomas Sowell and Stephen Camarata, derived its name from the father of modern physics and Nobel Prize winning physicist, Albert Einstein. The author of the theory of relativity, Einstein, started speaking only at the age of five but was not fluent until the age of nine. Research suggested that this was due to the unusual development of his brain as revealed by the autopsy.

The portions of analytical thinking of his brain had overflowed into adjoining areas including those areas where speech is usually controlled. This has led neuroscientists to suggest that his delayed speech and genius may have been related. Hence, Einstein syndrome explains a significant group of children who are exceptionally bright and gifted in specific domains, but with a developmental delay in speech.

Brain Development

The studies conducted by Thomas Sowell Stanford University and Stephen Camarata reported that more than half the children were three and a half years old before they made their first multiword statement. According to one study, most children were four and as per another study, complete sentences came for most children by age five. This delay was due to the fast pace at which their brains were developing than most other children. Hence, the delay in the development of language.


The most important aspect is that these children do not have any underlying speech disorders. They have excellent, fine motor skills and have no hearing impairments, neurological disorders, autism, Apraxia, ADD and ADHD, Aspergers or Down’s syndrome.

Based on the children’s refusal to perform certain tasks, low scores on language assessment devices and their lack of concern in tests, most professionals have a tendency to misdiagnose them. With their exclusive interests, these children are not bothered about making conversation. For example, Einstein was extremely talented in mathematics, but due to his disinterest in other subjects, he nearly dropped out of school. This is confirmation of these late talking children’s extraordinarily gifted memories.

When the Childs language development does not correspond to normal standards, parents are under extreme pressure from relatives and acquaintances. Despite other developmental milestones like comprehension, crawling walking, and social skills apart from ruling out every possibility of physical or emotional disorders by a qualified medical professional most children of this group need a lot of support and help to catch up with their peers.

Characteristics Of Smart Late-Talking Children

Speech Delay

A majority of these children failed to use more than one word, until three and a half years of age. Their first sentence was spoken by four or five years. However, when they started to speak they either demonstrated a unique approach like speaking words practicing slowly or made rapid progressions, while others as they start speaking were difficult to be understood.

Speech Delay

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Family Characteristics

Children who fit into this category have parents who are extremely analytical and above average in educational level. That is most of their parents or relatives worked as engineers, mathematicians and scientists. Another interesting factor is that some of the children had relatives who too had speech delay.

Gender Bias

While most children who are late talkers are male, there have also been some famous female late-talkers such as celebrated pianist Clara Schumann and Julia Robinson, the first woman to become president of the American Mathematical Association.

Analytical Skills

These children exhibited high analytical skills like solving difficult puzzles as toddlers and engaged in activities that require pattern determination and numbering.

Excellent Memory

Most of these children had a photographic memory.

Precocious Abilities

As a toddler or preschooler these bright children, as young as two years of age could play an instrument or use the computer with little guidance.

Strong Willed

These bright gifted children extremely strong willed often-demonstrated extreme reactions, abnormal sensitivities and obsessive interests, similar to children of high IQs.

Delayed Social Development

These late talkers may have issues with socialisation, peer relationships and difficulty learning to read and going through regular school system.

Delayed Toilet Training

The normal age for toilet training for children who fall under this group are delayed to 31/2 to 4 ½ years. Sowell, however, does not recommend early intervention, as most gifted children, like Einstein, are good at receptive language, and have difficulty in expressive language.

Thus, the Einstein Syndrome as the author describes, is a fascinating phenomenon, where these exceptionally gifted children tread unique paths of speech and language development.

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