Einstein Syndrome


In this article, Thomas Sowell reviews his research on what is termed the "Einstein Syndrome." Essentially, Sowell discusses the many famous geniuses - Albert Einstein, Arthur Rubinstein, Ramanujan - who were noted for their language delay. Einstein, for instance, did not begin speaking until three and was not fluent at the age of nine.

This is not to say that all people who suffer from language delay will eventually become geniuses. In fact, the majority do not. What is fascinating about this article is that we still know so little about how the brain works and the complex interactions between different parts of the brain. Sowell notes: "A sample of youngsters enrolled in the Johns Hopkins program for mathematically precocious youths — kids who can score 700 on the math SAT when they are just 12 years old — showed that more than four-fifths of them were allergic and/or myopic and/or left-handed."

What also must be taken away from this work is the idea that specific delays, deficits, or disabilities imply that students are not exceptional in other areas. The stigma attached to special education often means that students are judged in one area based on their disability in another. As teachers, we must remain vigilant in looking for students strengths rather than focusing on their disabilities. A language delay on the surface may belie the extraordinary mathematical abilities that lie below.

By Cary Sabados