Late Talking Children

Late Talking Children

by Thomas Sowell
     
 

The painful and baffling mystery as to why some obviously bright children do not begin talking until long after the ”normal” time is explored in this book through personal experiences and the findings of scientific research. The author’s own experiences as the father of such a child led to the formation of a goup of more than fifty sets of parents

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Overview

The painful and baffling mystery as to why some obviously bright children do not begin talking until long after the ”normal” time is explored in this book through personal experiences and the findings of scientific research. The author’s own experiences as the father of such a child led to the formation of a goup of more than fifty sets of parents of similar children. The anguish and frustration of these prents as they try to cope with children who do not talk and institutions that do not understand them is a remarkable and moving human story. Fortunately, some of these children turn out to have not only normal intelligence but even outstanding abilities, especially in highly analytical fields such as mathematics and computers. These fascinating stories of late-talking children and the remarkable families from which they come are followed by explorations of scientific research that throw light on unusual development patterns.

Editorial Reviews

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.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780465038343
Publisher:
Basic Books
Publication date:
06/26/1997
Edition description:
1 ED
Pages:
192
Product dimensions:
5.80(w) x 8.59(h) x 0.79(d)

What People are saying about this

Julian C. Stanley
"This warm, humane 'labor of love' by a distinguished writer and economist reassures the parents of many late-talking children that their sons or daughters are not mentally retarded or autistic. Dr.Sowell's interesting interweaving of case histories seems to me an important supplement to the literature on other 'disorders' of early childhood."
Steven Pinker
"A wonderful book. For lovers of medical mysteries, Sowell has an eye for telling detail that one sees in only the finest clinical observers. For parents of children with language problems, he combines a compassionate first-person account with sound, clear-headed advice. For scientists and professionals, he offers provocative data with possibly profound implications for our
understanding of language, mind, brain, and genes. And it is all done in Sowell's style: indefatigably researched, sharply reasoned, and beautifully written."
Sally E. Shaywitz
"A wonderful gift for parents of all children who are somehow different and don't fit neatly into pigeonholes.... Late Talking Children gives parents the understanding, the confidence and the fortitude to stand up to each of these and to fight for what isbest for their child."

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