Thursday, April 5, 2012

E is for...Einstein Syndrome by Yvonne Rupert

Welcome to Unwritten's little corner of the the A-Z Blogging Challenge! If you want to see the whole lineup, click HERE! 

I am so pleased to welcome Yvonne Rupert here for Day 5 of our challenge. This mother of SEVEN brings us a nonfiction, autobiographical piece which enlightened me to a condition I've never heard of before. Whether you've heard of it or not, read on to find out why the fabulous artwork below is so special, and as always, be generous with comments!

E is for...Einstein Syndrome

We nicknamed her “mouse” before she was born, such a peaceful presence in my womb.  When we held her for the first time we named her Molly, but her temperament remained the same--serene, quiet, gentle.  She socialized more than our other babies did, switching happily from one family member to the next. 

I’m not sure when we realized something was wrong. Maybe at a doctor's appointment or from a list of growth milestones in a book. All I know is that at twelve months old, Molly was still silent.

No babbles. No coos. No “mama” or “dada.”  No string of sounds.

Our pediatrician tested her ears, her mouth, her tongue, and her throat—all normal.  However, at Molly’s eighteen month well-baby visit, he gave us a stack of literature about autism. They landed in our hands like a fist.

Many of our friends nodded their heads in agreement with the diagnosis; they had known all along.   

But not my husband.  He simply repeated what he had always said, “There’s nothing wrong with my baby.   Someday, she’ll be our family spokesperson, you’ll see.” 

In her own way, Molly was that already, charming everyone with her smiles and her hugs and her cleverness.  She couldn’t talk, but she had the most expressive face. Over time, she created a combination of sign language and facial expressions to show exactly what she wanted. 

How could she be autistic?  She had crawled early, walked early, smiled early, solved jigsaw puzzles early. She was fiercely independent, stubborn, nurturing, and social. Something didn’t fit.

So we waited. 

At two, Molly discovered the art shelf in our library. She pulled a book from the shelf, a fat coffee table volume packed with famous art. She poured over the book for hours. Not only did she want to hear the names of the artists, she wanted to repeat them. Recognizable words filled the air—Picasso, Monet, Van Gogh. Around the same time, she added “mama” and “dada” to her vocabulary, but no other “relevant” words.

When Molly turned 3, the doctor was more adamant, hinting that he might contact social services if we didn’t take her to a specialist. So we took her. Diagnosis:  high functioning autism.   

Still, my husband stood firm; there was nothing wrong with his baby.

In desperation, I reached out to the homeschooling community. At my favorite yahoo group, I posted a description of Molly’s symptoms and begged my friends for advice.

See it HERE!
The very first response gave me chills.  “Sounds like Einstein Syndrome—bright children who simply talk late..  Check out this book: ....  ”

My hands were trembling when I googled the words. Within minutes, I found each one of Molly’s symptoms. Could this be it? Had my husband been right all along?

I contacted a specialist in Atlanta. We talked over the phone and through email and, eventually, in person. His diagnosis: our daughter had Einstein Syndrome. Basically, she was just a late talker.    

At four and a half Molly finally began talking. She skipped the warm-up, jumping directly into sentences, questions, and full-on conversations. 

Molly is ten now and talks constantly. She continues to chase art with a zealousness that astounds me. But more than anything else, Molly collects people, befriending everyone who comes her way. Our little mouse is quiet no more. She’s the spokesperson for our family, just like her father always said she would be.

Molly as a toddler
Yvonne Rupert lives in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. with her husband and 7 children.  She graduated from college with degrees in World History and American Literature. Her favorite authors include E. B. White, Chaim Potok, and Madeleine L’Engle.  In her spare time, she writes flash fiction and draws political cartoons.   Twice a year, she mentors writers at F2K, a free on-line writing course sponsored by Writer’s Village University.  She occasionally blogs at 


  1. This made me cry-in a good way! Bless little Molly and you and your husband for being so supportive.

    Knowing what autism is, is like trying to catch the wind. But, I've found each child diagnosed (that I've worked with at least!) really does want to connect with the world. It's just in their own, different way.

  2. Like Bree, tears welled in my eyes -- joy and delight danced at the surprise, the outcome I "wanted" and really came true --
    And the frustration - unwritten above but so real, that too many kids are mis-diagnosed (be it autism, ADD, or other disorders) and labeled for life, then lost in a maze that harms more than it helps.
    I am so happy for the outcome and from watching my grandson's development path, just know your daughter was super-developing her inner self all those years -- what an amazing future is now possible for her!

  3. Thank you for reading, Bree! I was so nervous about this post; your kind words are such a relief.

    I'm so lucky to have such a supportive husband--his faith in Molly made all the difference.

    During college I tutored children with autism and children with ADD. I truly believe they taught me how to parent. When I became a mom for the first time, I found myself using all the lessons I learned in that classroom with those amazing kids. I'm indebted. And I completely agree with you, each child with Autism has a unique and special way of dealing with the world.

  4. Aww Hawk, thanks so much for reading my post!!! Love my Flash pals! :) Your words made ME cry. We're on the other side now and I forget how scary those early years really were.

    So many kids are, like you said, "lost in a maze." My 8 year old nephew is going through it now. Does he have ADD? Does he have Aspergers? Is he bipolar? Is he suffering from PTSD from loosing both his father and his grandmother to violent deaths in the past 2 years? Every expert has a different opinion. :( My sister feels like we did--powerless.

  5. Von, thank you for sharing the beauty and challenge of discovering the key to Molly's developmental story. Your and your husband's unceasing love and devotion to her well-being combined with his firm inner knowing and your connection to a community of helpful individuals is poignant. Not being a parent myself, though I've taught many children (and adults) over the years, I can only imagine the depths of this journey you're all on together. I'm so glad you found the key of Time. I think Einstein would've appreciated that aspect of it too. I'm so glad I read this and the thoughtful comments afterward. Sending loving thoughts to you and your entire family.

  6. I am so glad I read this piece by you. Einstein is one of my heroes! I'm the 7th born, is your daughter as well? In my opinion, your little mouse ended up exactly where she needed to be, with you and your husband. All my love to you and your family!

    Hugs from Linda


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