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Late-Talking Children Paperback – July 3, 1998

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Late-Talking Children + The Einstein Syndrome: Bright Children Who Talk Late + Late-Talking Children: A Symptom or a Stage?
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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

As father of a child who was late in talking but precocious in other skills, Sowell had long been interested in such children. It was not, however, until the famous policy analyst wrote about his son (now an adult) in his syndicated column that he became acquainted with many other late-talkers' parents. With them, he created an information exchange; eventually, good social scientist that he is, he sent them a questionnaire to formally collect facts about late-talking, bright children for the purposes of ascertaining common characteristics and possibly honing diagnosis of what for many families is a disquieting set of circumstances, not least because public school authorities are overly prone to label such children autistic. Essentially, this book reports the questionnaire's gleanings and makes some tentative conclusions. But in the stories of particular children, including little John Sowell, that precede the reporting, it is engrossing, inspiriting, and lovely to read. Ray Olson --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Kirkus Reviews

A father's first-person account of his young son's difficulties in learning to talk, his surprising disoveries about other late talkers, and some intriguing speculation about the causes of this problem. Although clearly a bright boy who understood when spoken to and who displayed unusual analytical abilities (as a toddler, he managed to outwit a child-proof lock), Sowell's son John did not speak until he was almost four years old. When Sowell, a Hoover Institute senior fellow (Migrations and Culture, 1996, etc.), wrote about his son in his syndicated newspaper column, dozens of parents of late-talking children wrote to him. A support group of 55 families representing 57 children eventually formed. Sowell follows the story of his son John--now a successful computer scientist-- with numerous anecdotal accounts from these families' letters. Seeing a pattern in their stories, Sowell sent out questionnaires in 1994 and 1996, and the results of the longer 1996 survey are summarized here. He discovered that most of the late talkers were boys, with especially good memories and puzzle-solving skills, that most were slow in their social development and late in toilet training, and that many had close relatives who played musical instruments or were in analytical professions. Sowell, who is more anecdotal than scientific in his approach, is quick to acknowledge that his is a biased sample of late talkers, but he asserts that both professionals and parents should be aware of this pattern of mental abilities and family backgrounds. It may be, he speculates, that some bright children are late in talking precisely because the demands of their analytical abilities, localized in the left half of the brain, are being met at the expense of the speech function. Children like his son, he warns, are frequently misdiagnosed as retarded or autistic and thus risk being placed in special- education classes, from which release may be difficult. Hardly definitive, but should ease the minds of worried parents. -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books; Reprint edition (July 3, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465038352
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465038350
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (68 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #145,909 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Thomas Sowell has taught economics at Cornell, UCLA, Amherst and other academic institutions, and his Basic Economics has been translated into six languages. He is currently a scholar in residence at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. He has published in both academic journals in such popular media as the Wall Street Journal, Forbes magazine and Fortune, and writes a syndicated column that appears in newspapers across the country.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

68 of 71 people found the following review helpful By Sarah E. Mcfadden on June 12, 2005
Format: Paperback
I purchased both this book and Thomas Sowell's newer The Einstein Syndrome, only to find that they were basically the same book. The difference is that The Einstein Syndrome is based on a larger sample of children and is done more scientifically. I strongly recommend that you do not buy this book and get The Einstein Syndrome instead. All that you will miss is a few anecdotes; the basic information is presented much more strongly in the second book.
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44 of 49 people found the following review helpful By C McIntyre on January 28, 2000
Format: Paperback
Everyone I know either knows someone who talked late, or was him/herself a late talker, having no other ailments except late talking. I'm surprised someone didn't address this issue sooner. I would give this book four stars for the fact alone that it finally breeched the subject.
My three-year-old does not as yet talk, and this brought me a great deal of concern. As I read this book, I wrote down every similarity between Thomas Sowell's case studies and my own child. It gave me a much more well-defined outline of what my child is going through, being extremely intelligent and developmentally the same as her peers, but having no speech.
This book is not meant to diagnose. It's not even meant to stand as a general rule. What it does is create a basis of reference for parents of children who are clearly not developmentally challenged, but haven't talked yet. I think Mr. Sowell was quite clear in that his research was not concise science, and anyone who read it as such was only hoping to fool him/herself into having greater hope than there is.
Read this book with a grain of salt... though it's a study on late-talking children, it is the first of its kind, and the first attempt to encourage further research. It's a terrific resource, so long as the reader is not blind to a child's actual behavioral symptoms. Let the reader come to this book with his/her child's diagnosis based in reality, and it may prove a very useful tool to understanding the late-talking child.
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Adam Missner on September 25, 2001
Format: Paperback
Thomas Sowell is one of my favorite conservative authors. He is also the father of a late talking child who was misdiagnosed with autism or other problems, when in fact there was really nothing wrong with him (other than he talked late). After writing a few columns about his son, he started to get contacted by many other people with the same situation. These contacts turned in an informal group - the members of which he writes about here. There is really not too much in this book for people who do not have family that is late-talking, but for us it was very enlightening (our son Max was late-talking). The basic conclusion of this book is that there is some unnamed, unstudied disorder which seems to make children who are very very left brained talk late. These same kids seem to excel at math, logic and computers. It is possible that the late talking is just a function of the analytical part of the brain talking all the new cells for a while and "robbing" the speech center. This is not the case will all children who talk late, just thost who are perfectly normal in every other way (can understand and perform other functions normally or at an accelerated rate).
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 16, 2000
Format: Paperback
If it were possible, we would give this book ten stars. We read this book after seeing an excerpt from Reader's Digest. At that time, our five year old had been in pre-school for two years because of his late talking and delay in social interaction. Just before he was to go to kindergarten, we were bowled over with a "determination" of autism by the school district. We (pediatric nurse and lawyer) knew this was incorrect, and pointed to this book as proof, as our son matched many of the patterns in the book. With this as a guideline, we contacted the current crusader for late-talkers, Dr. Camarata from Nashville (Vanderbilt Univ.), who works with Dr. Sowell. A year later, our son has made progress of up to three years in some categories due to the proper interventions and no longer shows any hint of autistic tendencies, nor is he on the autism "spectrum" (the new example of fitting square pegs in round holes). His social interaction is now age appropriate. This book, contrary to some reviews, does NOT give false hope, but encourages parents whose child does not fit a majority of "autism" characteristics to investigate further. Thank God for Drs. Sowell and Camarata -- keep up the good work!
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 15, 1999
Format: Paperback
The book Late Talking Children is an invaluable resource for many parents. The author's extensive research, and experience with his own child, are just a couple of reasons readers of this book can see his caring and dedication to the subject of late talkers. I'd never seen a book dedicated solely to this mystery of the late talking population. Many parents I have spoken with since I'd read this book felt as if they were "all alone" before they found this book, and now can see there are many others that are going through the same things that they are. Dr. Sowell also makes it very clear that although not all late talkers are autistic, that some definately are and encourages every parent to seek many REPUTABLE professionals to get an accurate diagnosis. There are many different approaches a parent can take to help their child, and it is so important not to take the inappropriate path...and I believe this level-headed no nonsense book could help any parent of a late talker find their correct path.
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