Einstein syndrome

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Einstein syndrome is a term coined by Thomas Sowell to describe exceptionally bright people who experience a delay in development of speech.[1] The name is derived from physicist Albert Einstein, the author of the theory of relativity and the father of modern physics, whose speech was delayed until age five.


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

The main thesis of the book is that 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 and/or memory and/or math and/or the sciences. It is difficult if not impossible to accurately assess the cognitive skills of a child who is nonverbal or minimally verbal if the testing is verbally weighted, which it typically is. The book also addresses children with strong personalities resisting testing and scoring well below their capabilities. The author's own son who grew up to become a programmer, was falsely thought of as mentally disabled because of his talking despite evidence of excellent memory and no dramatic impairment in daily functioning. 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 are not rarely exhibited by those of exceptional intellect.

Other notable cases[edit]

Other scientists with similar behavioural traits as toddlers were John Clive Ward,[2] Edward Teller,[3] Srinivasa Ramanujan,[3] the mathematician Julia Robinson[4] and Richard Feynman.[4][citation needed]

The pianists Clara Schumann and Arthur Rubinstein are also considered in this group.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Sowell, Thomas (2001). The Einstein Syndrome: Bright Children Who Talk Late. Basic Books. pp. 89–150. ISBN 0-465-08140-1. 
  2. ^ *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. 
  3. ^ a b c Thomas Sowell, Ten Years Later. Capitalism Magazine, 24th 05 2003.
  4. ^ a b as well as Albert Einstein and William James Sidis(First words early but didn't speak in full sentences until about 3 years of age). Thomas Sowell (2008), Late-Talking Children, Basic Books, ISBN 9780786723652