Because they are!
The "they" I speak of are divergent-thinking children. They are ascribed as "the Edison Trait," "visual-spatial learners," and in some rarer cases, as having "the Einstein Syndrome." (Please note that while these terms are all related, they are not interchangeable.) Sadly, far too many of these children are also diagnosed as "ADD" or "ADHD". Children with the Einstein Syndrome are also at risk to be misdiagnosed with autism. Granted, a smaller percentage of the population (all of them divergent thinking) legitimately do have attention-deficit disorder; however, it is important to note the difference between an actual "disorder" (i.e., something that prevents them from functioning adequately in society) and a different thinking process.
My son is a supernova. I know no other way to describe him. The first time I held him, I knew he was different. He gazed at me with the wisdom of the ages, those deep blue eyes seeming to hold the soul of a very old man. And yet, he was not tired. Quite the opposite, in fact ...
Everyone (and every piece of literature on babies I read) told me that my newborn would be sleeping a minimum of 15 hours a day those first few weeks. You can imagine my dismay when my little man only appeared to need about 8-10 hours of sleep. In total. Of course, like all newborns, he did this in 2-3 hour blocks ... and then was up for 4-5. As I was recovering from a very long and difficult labor (and subsequent c-section), I was both delighted that apparently there was no damage from him being stuck in my pelvis for four hours (listlessness was definitely NOT a descriptor for this child), and distressed that my healing time was significantly extending due to lack of rest. "Sleep when your baby sleeps," they told me.
Now, my son was--and is--a fairly large child compared to his peers. Mind you, he's not fat. He's just big. He was born the larger end of average with a head that was off the charts (literally--hence the "stuck" issue during delivery). By 2 months he was 99th percentile and continued there for his first year. So, even his ped thought nothing of his inability to hit certain milestones. Lifting his head, rolling over, crawling--his delays in all these areas were attributed to his massive size.
Meanwhile, he developed normally if not ahead of his peers in terms of hand-eye coordination and rhythm. Music seemed to pour out of him. By eighteen months you could hand him a wooden spoon, put on the Tran-Siberian Orchestra, and he could beat in time with the music. And, although he could not walk until 13 months, by 15 months he could run like a preschooler and kick a soccer ball. (I also frequently caught him "surfing" on our gliding ottoman.) By 30 months, he had a 0.33 batting average. We aren't talking t-ball, folks. These were underhand throws from 8-10 feet.
Still, there was that niggling little voice in my head. He should be talking by now. Yes, by 2 years, he liked to speak complete jibberish. He knew "Mommy", "Daddy," "Kitty," and a selection of food words. But that was it. His ped had asked about babbling at his 9M check-up, and he was behind then ... so she checked his tracking and responsiveness to being addressed. His responses, to use her words, were "perfect." She decided he was just quiet.
She didn't bring it up at 12 months, but at 18 months she asked again. I worried. I thought I wasn't engaging him enough. Autism awareness was really picking up at the time, and I had a cold pit growing in my stomach. Surely not my baby ...?
Again, she addressed him, played some of those "games" to see how he interacted. Once again, "perfect." In fact, even as a newborn he obsessed with having people interact WITH him. He'd scream his head off if you left the room or simply turned away. He was happiest being held or given continuous eye-contact. No, this isn't autism, it's something else.
I brought him in for a 3-year well-child check-up (we had moved and subsequently changed pediatricians). Of course, he's into everything. Not to say he's undisciplined. He's really starting to learn to control his temper, and has impressed us with his efforts. Like I said, Supernova. Continuously bright, pulsing with energy ... and periodically prone to eruption. We jokingly used to blame the red hair ...
His new doctor watched him shrewdly, taking in both his continuous motion and his responses to my corrections.
"Is he generally this high-energied?" Oh yes.
"Does he seem to have trouble focusing?" No, not if it's something that's of interest to him! He's highly selective.
"Do you see this pattern in the family?" Definitely, although by the time they hit adulthood, they make this shift from "divided-attention" to "hyper-focus."
"What about preschool skills? Does he draw circles?" Circles, squares, triangles ... he knows his colors, numbers, alphabet .... though does have this odd habit of reading everything backwards.
"How is he at reading people?" Honestly? More adept than most adults.
She smiles briefly, then purses her lips ... "He is speech-delayed, but really that's the only thing we can address right now. I'll refer him to speech pathology; their testing system is fairly holistic. If there's an underlying cause (such as dyslexia or sensory-integrative disorder), they'll be able to spot and address it."
I received a call from the hospital nearly a week later confirming the referral. "We have a waiting list. I'm afraid it's going to be a while."
Now what? I know the window of intervention is small, but after reading the therapy options through the local school district, my skin is crawling. "If you think your child has a disability, please call us." Disability? For the first time, I had an appreciation for those people I had once mocked for coining the term, "other-abled."
I began feverishly searching Google. I don't even remember the search terms I used. "Bright children with developmental delay"? Something like that. Somehow, by the grace of God, I stumbled across several pieces of literature. I intend to share with you "unofficial" book reviews on these in future posts.
If the story of my son sounds familiar to you, please feel free to comment! I am eager to hear from other parents who have been down this road.