Einstein syndrome: characteristics, symptoms and effects on children

By Einstein syndrome is meant a delay in the onset of speech; when this happens, the child does not reach the evolutionary goals that he should have achieved according to his age.

This delay in speech or the slower maturation process is not a marker of pathology, because in children with Einstein syndrome we observe high intellectual capacities especially of analytical and creative thinking. They also show good motor skills, a high memory capacity and limited interests which refer to a great interest in certain subjects.

Thus, this syndrome does not appear in any diagnostic manual, and more research and studies are needed to find out more. However, it has been shown to be useful as a differential diagnosis of autism, thereby preventing children with slower language development from being mistakenly classified as autistic.

In this article we will see what is Einstein syndrome and what are its defining characteristics and symptoms.

    What is Einstein Syndrome?

    Einstein syndrome is defined as a delay in the onset of speech. The boys and girls who develop it they do not speak or do it incompletely whereas with age they should have this skill more developed.

    In general terms, it has been established as a criterion that children should already express sentences or phrases of one word per year, a period known as the holophrasic; at 2 years old, they should be able to combine first words, from two words to more (this fact is known as telegraph speech); at 3 years of age, there is an increase in vocabulary; and at 4 years old, the vocabulary of the child is already similar to that of the adult.

    We can see how these are quite specific periods, but not all children encounter them in the same way. It has been observed that 15% of the population develop the language late. Among them are children with Einstein syndrome who, as we have already pointed out, will start speaking later, but once they acquire the skill, they will not suffer from any impairments or impairments indicating a late at the start. Likewise, we also observe that these are subjects that are advanced in other fields, especially in terms of analytical and creative thinking.

    This syndrome was described and named by the American economist Thomas Sowell, with the main function of distinguishing subjects with speech delay and children diagnosed with autism. We now know that a symptom of autism can be the delay in the onset of language, but this symptom is not specific or determinant of this condition; a delay may be observed, but the other diagnostic criteria for autism will not always be met.

    If we look at the name of the syndrome, we see that it pays homage to the famous and important 20th century scientist Albert Einstein. this is because Einstein started speaking late, did not come up with a full sentence until he was 5 years old, but this further development of this skill did not prevent his intellectual abilities from progressing properly and become a genius.

      Define the symptoms of Einstein syndrome

      As we have seen, the term “Einstein syndrome was coined by Sowell”. Sowell then joined Stephen Camarata to conduct research on the characteristics of people with this syndrome. The main criterion that we know is that the child does not make normal progress in the appearance of speech, however there are other symptoms that may indicate that you actually have this syndrome.

      Some of these characteristics are: exceptional abilities in analytical or musical skills, with mastery of technologies beyond their age; large memory capacity; great stubbornness (it’s hard to convince these people to do something they don’t want to do); selective interests, especially those related to music or creativity; delay in the ability to control urination and use the toilet; when something interests them, they completely concentrate their attention; show difficulties in verbal communication in the first years, acquire the correct construction of a sentence at the earliest 4 years and have a good development of motor skills. In addition, they often have parents with high analytical or musical skills;

        The diagnosis

        It is normal for us as parents to be aware of the development of our child, to worry if we find that he is not reaching the milestones set at each age. Our minds begin to imagine the worst situations, thinking that they may have a serious problem, a developmental disability or autism. But other impairments are also known to be delayed in speech.

        Einstein syndrome does not appear as a disorder in any diagnostic manual because it has been observed that the defining characteristics are not determinants of this disorder; in other words it is, There are features of this syndrome which also present in subjects without pathology, and not all subjects with this syndrome have superior intellectual capacities.. Consequently, it will be necessary to continue research on this pathology because currently the information available to us is scarce.

        But the diagnosis of this condition serves to differentiate and not to make an early diagnosis of autism spectrum syndrome. If we take a look at the criteria described in the previous section, we find that some match or may also have an autistic disorder, such as the main symptom of speech delay or restricted interests.

        This is why the two authors defined Einstein syndrome for decrease overdiagnosis or misdiagnosis of autism. We have to keep in mind that putting someone in a category, labeling them, has a number of effects such as needing treatment or different treatment, for example in school. It is therefore important that before classifying a subject in a category, a disorder, we make sure that it actually meets the criteria.

        But autism is not the only diagnosis similar to this condition. There is a disorder in the Fifth Edition of the American Psychiatric Association Diagnostic Manual called speech disorder, which also exhibits changes in expressive and understandable language, although this tends to persist and not improve as in children with Einstein syndrome.

        As we have said, not all children develop equally and this does not mean that they have a disorder, nor that all people with pathologies have the same characteristics, which makes it difficult to ‘Assigning a diagnosis at an early age, as young children have yet to develop and we are not sure what this process will look like.

        It is also important to keep in mind the most common warning signs or milestones that children exhibit at each age, but always keep in mind that they are not determinants or a direct cause of. a disability or serious mental health problem. If we have any doubts as to whether our child may be affected, it is best to consult a professional. rule out possible pathologies and if a problem is detected, be able to intervene and treat them as quickly as possible, as this will prevent them from developing into more serious deteriorations.

          How is Einstein syndrome?

          Once the diagnosis has been made and all the possible pathologies that may be linked to the symptoms manifested by the child have been evaluated, the most appropriate treatment and adapted to the particular subject is established and guided. We try to make the intervention as personalized as possible, because each individual is different, with different difficulties, capacities and environments.

          This way, we assess what are the most characteristic difficulties of each subject in order to be able to deal with them in this way. For example, we let’s examine if the language problem is expressive only (that is, it presents alterations in the mode of expression with a reduced vocabulary extension and without complete formulation of the sentences), or if it also presents understanding. .

          If the comprehension is impaired, it is already understood that the expression will also be affected and therefore the impairment will be more severe and will require another type of treatment. These subjects, in addition to having difficulty speaking, also have difficulty understanding what they are told, understanding the information they receive.

          In short, we understand Einstein syndrome as a way to categorize subjects with speech difficulties, but who often end up developing high abilities and significant successes, always keeping in mind that they do not. is not a medical problem and that it is not known for sure what influence it has on the environment and what percentage of people. We must also remember that each child has different periods of maturation and development, which is quite normal, and there is no need for alarm.

          Bibliographical references

          • Smith, D. (2020) Einstein Syndrome: Features, Diagnosis, and Treatment.
          • Sowell, T. (2003) Einstein Syndrome: Bright Children Who Speak Late. Basic Books, New York.
          • Alonso, V. (2018) CEDE PIR preparation manual: clinical child psychology. CEDE: 5ª Edition.

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