The boy who knew too much: a child prodigy

This is the true story of scientific child prodigy, and former baby genius, Ainan Celeste Cawley, written by his father. It is the true story, too, of his gifted brothers and of all the Cawley family. I write also of child prodigy and genius in general: what it is, and how it is so often neglected in the modern world. As a society, we so often fail those we should most hope to see succeed: our gifted children and the gifted adults they become. Site Copyright: Valentine Cawley, 2006 +

Friday, July 20, 2007

Tiarnan tests the temperature.

Tiarnan is a creative toddler. I say this because he manages to find new ways to do old things that are, in fact, superior. This is rather surprising when you consider that he is only 17 months and can't be expected to have too much experience of life.

One example happened a couple of weeks ago.

Tiarnan, like most young children, has long discovered that some objects can be hot. He has learnt to be wary of hot objects. This is natural. However, what is unusual is the approach he has adopted towards potentially hot objects. He has taken to testing their temperature in a way unlikely to bring him pain. Most children - and adults - in fact, reach out to touch potentially hot objects with the tips of their fingers, extending one finger to test the heat of the object. This is effective. It is not difficult to ascertain whether something is hot. The problem is that the tip of the finger is highly sensitive and easily feels pain. Tiarnan has recognized this and so has invented a different approach. When faced with an object which may be hot, such as a cup, he reaches out to touch it - WITH THE OUTSIDE OF HIS FIST. My wife and I thought this particularly ingenious, because this part of the hand is quite insensitive to heat and less given to pain - and so, from Tiarnan's perspective - much less likely to feel hurt. He can readily determine whether the object is hot - but with much less risk of sudden discomfort or pain.

This shows that Tiarnan is observing his body very closely and how it responds to the environment. In this way, he rapidly adapts his behaviour so the outcome suits him better.

It is enlightening how much thought can be revealed in even the simplest of actions - for if an action is non-standard, there is always a good reason why this is so. Just ask Tiarnan.

(If you would like to read more of Tiarnan, seventeen months, or his gifted brothers, Ainan Celeste Cawley, a scientific child prodigy, aged seven years and seven months, or Fintan, four years and no months, please go to: I also write of gifted education, IQ, intelligence, child prodigy, child genius, baby genius, adult genius, savant, the creatively gifted, gifted children and gifted adults in general. Thanks.)

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 5:14 PM 


Blogger Mama said...

Hello family,

When you say "outside of fist" do you mean with the fingers of his fist, knuckles, or back of the hand of the fist? It IS interesting, regardless, but I thought further clarification would give more of a picture/idea. My son is 14 months. He tests heat with the inside of his hand, at the base of the palm, just above the wrist, on the the pads. He'll say, "hot! hot!" and tap lightly with this part of his hand after he holds his hand above the object to feel the radiation of heat first (from food, for example, after I tell him it's hot).

6:59 AM  
Blogger Mama said...

Hello again,

I am checking back to say I've answered my own questions. I had thought it would be informative for everyone to hear what part of the back of the hand was used, and I didn't know how the heel of the hand is different from say, the fingers, but I looked it up on a Yale U. curriculum site that discussed sensitivity of the hand. It showed the fingers to be most receptive, with the heel of the hand about 1/2 as receptive and then the entire back of the hand as even less sensitive. I had thought, when I was asking you, that maybe the backs of the fingers are different from the knuckles, or the actual back of hand. So I was simply curious and then I found out it was a somewhat worthless question afterall. If there IS a difference between the back of the hand or the back of the fingers, it would be interesting to clarify, for just observational purposes. I certaintly do not intend or mean to monopologize the forums and have, all my life, asked many questions--annoying some in the process. Thank you though for your forbearance with my ignorance.

3:21 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

I find your questions interesting and stimulating and not in the least bothersome as you suppose.

You raised an interesting matter - and answered it yourself.

However, just for information's sake, Tiarnan uses the part of the fist denoted by the back of his clenched fingers and knuckles: a pretty insensitive area.

Good luck on raising your gifted child.

Best wishes

8:42 PM  

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