Late talker

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A late talker is a toddler who experiences late-language emergence (LLE), a delay in language onset with no other diagnosed disabilities.[1] There are certain characteristics that late talkers share. For example, late talkers are significantly associated with being male, having a lower socioeconomic status, and having attention problems.[2][3]

Late talkers can often be misdiagnosed early on as having severe ("low-functioning" or nonverbal) autism spectrum disorder (a category known simply as "autism", prior to the DSM-5), and careful professional evaluation is necessary for differential diagnosis, according to Darold Treffert and other experts.[4][5] One major difference between late talkers and low-functioning autistic children is that for late talkers, communication skills automatically reach a normal level and the child requires no further special treatment with regards to speech.[6][7] Also, toddlers on the autism spectrum show a more severe delay in vocabulary development than late talkers and to prevent misdiagnosing late talkers, it is vital to monitor other domains in toddlers development including cognitive, communication, sensory, and motor skills. [8][1]

Outlook for late talkers with or without intervention is generally favorable.[9] However, late language emergence can also be an early or secondary sign of an autism spectrum disorder, or other developmental disorders, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, intellectual disability, learning disability, social communication disorder, or specific language impairment.[10][11][12]

Einstein syndrome, a term coined by the economist Thomas Sowell, is also sometimes used to describe late talkers. The term is named after Albert Einstein (often said to have been a late talker, though with questionable evidence[13]), whom Sowell used as the primary example of a late talker in his work.[14] Sowell also considered Edward Teller,[14] the mathematicians Srinivasa Ramanujan,[14] Julia Robinson,[15] physicist Richard Feynman,[14][15] and the pianists Clara Schumann and Arthur Rubinstein to be in the late talkers group.[14] As a toddler, the scientist John Clive Ward showed similar behavioral traits to those described by Sowell,[16] according to a brief sketch in his biography.

Sowell claimed late talkers are often inaccurately categorized as having an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and that a small subset of late talkers are highly intelligent children with common characteristics concentrated in music, memory, math or the sciences.[17] However, such characteristics are also found in the autism spectrum.[18][19]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Late Language Emergence". American Speak-Language-Hearning Association. Retrieved 20 October 2019.
  2. ^ Fisher EL (October 2017). "A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Predictors of Expressive-Language Outcomes Among Late Talkers". Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research. 60 (10): 2935–2948. doi:10.1044/2017_JSLHR-L-16-0310. PMID 28915512.
  3. ^ Hammer CS, Morgan P, Farkas G, Hillemeier M, Bitetti D, Maczuga S (March 2017). "Late Talkers: A Population-Based Study of Risk Factors and School Readiness Consequences". Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research. 60 (3): 607–626. doi:10.1044/2016_JSLHR-L-15-0417. PMC 5962923. PMID 28257586.
  4. ^ Treffert D. "Outgrowing Autism? A Closer Look at Children Who Read Early or Speak Late". Scientific American. Retrieved 3 March 2016.
  5. ^ Treffert D. "Oops! When "Autism" Isn't Autistic Disorder: Hyperlexia and Einstein Syndrome". Scientific American. Retrieved 3 March 2016.
  6. ^ Camarata SM (2014). Late-talking children : a symptom or a stage?. ISBN 978-0-262-02779-3.
  7. ^ 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.
  8. ^ Weismer SE, Gernsbacher MA, Stronach S, Karasinski C, Eernisse ER, Venker CE, Sindberg H (August 2011). "Lexical and grammatical skills in toddlers on the autism spectrum compared to late talking toddlers". Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. 41 (8): 1065–75. doi:10.1007/s10803-010-1134-4. PMC 3049899. PMID 21061053.
  9. ^ Rapin I (February 2002). "Legitimacy of comparing fragile X with autism questioned". Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. 32 (1): 60–1. doi:10.1023/A:1017956224167. PMID 11916334.
  10. ^ "Five Minutes with Stephen Camarata". The MIT Press. October 2014. Retrieved 3 March 2016.
  11. ^ "Late Language Emergence: Overview". American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. Retrieved 2017-10-14.
  12. ^ Sanchack KE, Thomas CA (December 2016). "Autism Spectrum Disorder: Primary Care Principles". American Family Physician. 94 (12): 972–979. PMID 28075089.
  13. ^ Wolff B, Goodman H. "The Legend of the Dull-Witted Child Who Grew Up to Be a Genius". The Albert Einstein Archives. Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
  14. ^ a b c d e Sowell T (24 May 2003). "Ten Years Later". Capitalism Magazine.
  15. ^ a b Sowell T (2008). Late-Talking Children. Basic Books. p. 192. ISBN 978-0-7867-2365-2.
  16. ^ Close F (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 978-0-19-959350-7.
  17. ^ Sowell T (2001). The Einstein Syndrome: Bright Children Who Talk Late. Basic Books. pp. 89–150. ISBN 978-0-465-08140-0.
  18. ^ Hughes JR (December 2009). "Update on autism: a review of 1300 reports published in 2008". Epilepsy & Behavior. 16 (4): 569–89. doi:10.1016/j.yebeh.2009.09.023. PMID 19896907.
  19. ^ Rescorla L (2011). "Late talkers: do good predictors of outcome exist?". Developmental Disabilities Research Reviews. 17 (2): 141–50. doi:10.1002/ddrr.1108. PMID 23362033.