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10 Things You Didn't Know About Einstein

He Took Up Speaking Late as a Child
Einstein at age 3 Apic/Getty Images
Einstein at age 3 Apic/Getty Images

Einstein did not speak until comparatively late in childhood, and he remained a reluctant talker until the age of 7 [source: Wolff and Goodman]. This fact, combined with his single-minded devotion to physics, his imposition of routines on his wife, his musical talent and other factors have led some to argue that Einstein had Asperger's syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder that affects language and behavioral development in children.

Other historical talents, including physicists Isaac Newton and Marie Curie and artists like Wassily Kandinsky and J.M.W. Turner, have received similar postmortem armchair diagnoses [source: James]. Departing from this view, Stanford economist and author Thomas Sowell coined the term "Einstein Syndrome" to describe non-autistic gifted people with delayed speech. How his ideas are viewed by child development experts, or how they differ from the more commonly known phenomenon of asynchronous development, in which gifted children develop faster than average in some areas and more slowly in others, remains unclear.

In the end, Einstein, a lifelong visual thinker, might simply have had a rich inner life and no need for speech because, as one famous anecdote claims he said, "up to now everything was in order."