If your child seems to be behind in their speech and language development, but they’re highly gifted in other areas, they could be described as having Einstein syndrome.
You may be intrigued by the name–could your child really be the next Albert Einstein? While we all think our children are the best and brightest (as all parents should!), Einstein syndrome isn’t solely focused on IQ. It describes having a combination of talent and abilities in certain areas, along with a delay in speaking.
Learn what Einstein syndrome is, the symptoms of Einstein syndrome, and how speech therapy can help your child.
What is Einstein syndrome?
Einstein syndrome is when a child develops language skills later than typically expected, yet is gifted in other areas, such as musical talent or analytical skills.
The term “Einstein syndrome” was developed in 1993 by American economist Thomas Sowell. Sowell noted that while delayed speech can be a sign of a developmental condition, many children who are late talkers go on to thrive, leading productive, successful lives. At a later time, Dr. Stephen Camarata, a respected clinician and professor with the Department of Hearing and Speech Science at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, began supporting the use of this term.
What are the signs of Einstein syndrome?
Signs of Einstein syndrome can include:
Delayed potty training
Strong memory skills
Early reading abilities, number recognition and understanding, or technological skills
Being analytical or musically talented
Selective, specific interests
Longer focus on preferred items and interests
Began speaking late, but when they do start speaking they have no communication issues
It should be noted that Einstein syndrome is not a formal diagnosis. It does not exist in the DSM-5, which is the handbook used by healthcare professionals as the authoritative guide to diagnosing mental disorders. There is no specific testing done for Einstein syndrome. It is more of a descriptive term for observations of the child’s development and abilities.
Other conditions that may look similar to Einstein syndrome
If a child is late or delayed in speaking, they may be tested to rule out other diagnoses. There are a few speech and language related diagnoses that can look similar to Einstein syndrome.
One characteristic of autism is often delayed language development. So it’s important for a practitioner to observe the child as a whole in order to identify whether autism is present, or another issue such as Einstein syndrome is causing the language delay.
Childhood apraxia of speech
Childhood apraxia of speech (CAS) is another condition that can look similar to Einstein syndrome. CAS is an impairment of the motor planning needed to produce speech. The person has the language capacity to talk, but the signals between their brain and mouth muscles aren’t sent correctly. A speech therapist should conduct an in-depth assessment to determine if the child’s motor planning is within normal limits in order to rule out apraxia.
If a child isn’t yet speaking, their hearing should be assessed. Being able to hear every individual sound that makes up a word is vital to language development. A child who’s a “late talker” should always have their hearing tested to rule out hearing loss.
How do you know if your child has a speech delay?
One way to get a sense of whether your child is on track with talking is to understand the communication milestones expected for their age. Children each develop on their own timeline, but there are some general milestones that are typical for the following ages:
We offer an easy online screener that can help you determine if a speech evaluation is recommended for your child. You’ll answer several short questions based on your child’s age and receive instant results. You can also schedule a free phone consultation with an Expressable speech therapist to discuss your results and any questions you have.
What to do if your child is a late talker
If you suspect that your child has a speech delay or may have Einstein syndrome, speak with your pediatrician and contact a speech therapist. Your pediatrician can refer you to a speech therapist if needed.
While a speech therapist won’t formally diagnose Einstein syndrome, delayed speech can be addressed in speech therapy. At the root of the late speaking present in Einstein syndrome is a speech and language delay. No matter the cause or diagnosis, a speech therapist can address and treat communication challenges present in your child.
You may wonder if a speech delay can go away on its own. With the right support at home, some children can catch up in their communication skills. Several factors play a role in whether this is possible, such as neurological issues or a cognitive delay that may need professional support. The severity of the speech and language delay is also a factor. The more severe a child’s delay is, the less likely it may be to go away on its own.
With all these possible factors, it’s always best to have your child evaluated by a speech therapist. Even if they only need speech therapy for a short time, it’s better to do it as soon as possible, to avoid the chance of your child falling further behind in their development.
Everyone deserves to be able to clearly communicate their thoughts and needs. And speech therapy can help your child reach these milestones faster!