Einstein syndrome

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Not to be confused with Savant syndrome.

Einstein syndrome is a term coined by the economist Thomas Sowell to describe exceptionally bright people who experience a delay in development of speech.[1] Commonalities include usually being boys, delayed speech development, highly educated parents, musically gifted families, puzzle-solving abilities, and lagging social development.[2] Einstein syndrome can often be misdiagnosed as autism. Many of these high achieving late-talkers were notoriously strong willed and noncompliant as children.[3] One major difference between Einstein syndrome and autism is that in Einstein syndrome, communication skills automatically reach a normal level and the child requires no further special treatment.[4][5] Outlook with or without intervention is generally favorable.[6]

Darold Treffert has recommended that late-talking children need careful professional evaluation to differentiate between the characteristics of Einstein syndrome and autism.[7][8]

Sowell claimed late talkers are often inaccurately categorized as having an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and that a small subset of late talkers are actually highly intelligent children with common characteristics concentrated in music, memory, math or the sciences.[2]

Einstein syndrome is named after Albert Einstein whom Sowell used as his primary example.[9] Sowell also included Edward Teller,[9] Srinivasa Ramanujan,[9] the mathematician Julia Robinson,[10] Richard Feynman,[9][10] and the pianists Clara Schumann and Arthur Rubinstein to be in this group.[9]

As a toddler, the scientist John Clive Ward showed similar behavioural traits to those described by Sowell,[11] according to a brief sketch of his biography.


  1. ^ James, Ioan (15 November 2008). "Autism in mathematicians". The Mathematical Intelligencer. 25 (4): 62–65. doi:10.1007/BF02984863. 
  2. ^ a b Sowell, Thomas (2001). The Einstein Syndrome: Bright Children Who Talk Late. Basic Books. pp. 89–150. ISBN 0-465-08140-1. 
  3. ^ "Five Minutes with Stephen Camarata". The MIT Press. The MIT Press. Retrieved 3 March 2016. 
  4. ^ Camarata, Stephen M. (2014). Late-talking children : a symptom or a stage?. ISBN 9780262027793. 
  5. ^ Treffert, DA (March 2014). "Savant syndrome: realities, myths and misconceptions.". Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. 44 (3): 564–71. doi:10.1007/s10803-013-1906-8. PMID 23918440. 
  6. ^ Rapin, Isabelle (2002). "Book Review: Diagnostic Dilemmas in Developmental Disabilities: Fuzzy Margins at the Edges of Normality. An Essay Prompted by Thomas Sowell's New Book: The Einstein Syndrome". Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. 32 (1): 49–57. doi:10.1023/A:1017956224167. 
  7. ^ Treffert, Darold. "Outgrowing Autism? A Closer Look at Children Who Read Early or Speak Late". Scientific American. Retrieved 3 March 2016. 
  8. ^ Treffert, Darold. "Oops! When "Autism" Isn t Autistic Disorder: Hyperlexia and Einstein Syndrome". Scientific American. Retrieved 3 March 2016. 
  9. ^ a b c d e Thomas Sowell, Ten Years Later. Capitalism Magazine, 24th 05 2003.
  10. ^ a b Thomas Sowell (2008), Late-Talking Children, Basic Books, ISBN 9780786723652 . 192 pages.
  11. ^ *Close, Frank (2011). "Ch. 6, The Identity of John Ward". The Infinity Puzzle: Quantum Field Theory and the Hunt for an Orderly Universe. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780199593507.