When I was a child, we used to have evening delights in front of our house. The seeds were asleep during the day, overlooked by passersby, transforming into gorgeous blossoms of pink and white in evening, embellishing the face of our neighborhood. Nobody would believe that it could be the same flower as the sleeping seeds.  

Some children remind of the those sleeping seeds, blooming much later in life. Some start to talk at a much later age than their peers, some walk later, some show slower development in social or other areas. In fact, some children undergo a transformative change as time progresses.  

Such as in the case of the German-born physics genius Albert Einstein.

Little Albert was too late to speak compared to his peers. In fact, he was so later that his family thought he may actually be “retarded”. Since he was reluctant to talk and repeated every single word he was treated poorly by the adults around him.
Now, we are talking about a genius that changed the world. There is a great quote by Einstein: “Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

Doesn’t he just describe the one-size-fits-all education system that disregards the different developmental processes, learning styles and talent areas of children? A lot of children are like little fish who think they are stupid because they cannot climb a tree. Stuck in a vicious circle of learned helplessness, some of them never learn that they can actually swim.

Those who deemed Einstein’s late speech development as a sign of stupidity could waste a genius by merely assessing him on the basis of his speech difficulty. In fact, his main area of talent was his powerful imagination. He could imagine the most complex laws of physics in simple pictures. One of the departure points for his game-changing theory of relativity was the dream of a little child competing with a bundle of light.  

Yet, this little boy who grasped what speed of light was could not start to speak at the same speed. Based on some sources, he only began to speak at the age of 3. At the age of 2 years and 8 months he was told that he would have a new baby sister. Trying to picture what a baby sister looked like, he asked “Does it have wheels?”

Another famous later talker and later walker is the Spanish artist Pablo Picasso. Picasso know how to draw before he could learn to talk and walk. It is said that his first word in life was “Piz! Piz!”, referring to lapiz, the Spanish word meaning pen.

And the father of law of gravity, Newton, imagined throwing a stone far away until it entered the orbit around the world.  

Some children see, interpret, and understand the world through images rather than in words. This is not a shortcoming; it is a difference. However, the school system generally revolves around letters and numbers. Therefore, talent potential in other areas may be left in the shadow, and some children are judged to have little or no potential. Like sleeping seeds of evening delight…

In fact, someone who is unaware of the potential hidden in the little seed may be impatient to wait till evening and clean away these superfluous “weeds”, like Einstein’s teachers did for instance… One day his father asked Einstein’s teacher which profession his son should choose. The teachers responded, “It doesn’t matter since your son is unlikely to succeed in anything”.  

I don’t know what to say about such a definitive judgment for a child at the beginning of his life journey, but this is not about being an educator for sure.

Years later Einstein described the bitter traces left by those memories: “ “t is nothing short of a miracle that modern methods of instruction have not yet entirely strangled the holy curiosity of inquiry. for this delicate little plant, aside from stimulation, stands mainly in need of freedom…”

Difference is not a disorder!

Autistic children are those who think in pictures as well. One example is Temple Grandin. Grandin, was in the category of Heroes in the top 100 most influential people list by TIME in 2010.

Temple was diagnosed with autism as a little girl. She was lucky to be born to a conscious family She had speech and play therapy starting from the age of 2. She could start talking only at the age of 4. She was an antisocial child, ridiculed by the environment. They teased her calling her “tape recorder” since she repeated everything she learned.  

Temple only thought “differently”: She thought in images rather than in words. Her best class at school was arts. She thought everyone else saw the world in pictures too; in fact, it was a major shock for her to learn that it was not the case. Her talent in arts helped her to come up with great inventions later in life.  

The concept of “normal” is totally a matter of who is the majority. If most of the population was composed of autistic individuals, then the world would be too difficult for the non-autistic to survive. There is a place called Martha’s Vineyard in the US. A very long time ago, almost the population there was deaf. The social system was organized so as to cater to the needs of the deaf. Those with the “hearing disorder” had quite a lot of difficulty adapting to the system.

Every child has his own ways

Some children develop much later that others.

Some children develop differently than others.

If a child speaks earlier than expected, this may be a sign of high mental potential. On the other hand, if he speaks late, this does not mean that he is “stupid”. In fact, he could even be an Einstein!

What to do?

If there is a delay in your child’s speech or in some other area of his development, you should try to understand the underlying reason, support her, and keep working on it with patience.

It helps to focus on her strengths and develop them, while trying to improve her weaknesses leveraging her strengths.

The most important of all is endless love and respect, and letting your child feel that she is precious.

And who cares if the seed never blossoms? She is still your little, beautiful, unique flower… Yet one day, after all the hard work and patience, you look out the window to see see big blossoms of evening delight in all their glamour, saluting you with gratitude from your garden…