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 +

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

On accepting the testimony of others

Today, I came across an exchange on a forum in which one mother rather hesitantly shared her experience of her child beginning to talk aged 15 weeks, or so.

Regular readers of this blog will not be surprised at this. However, some participants in that forum were: a couple denounced the mother as basically imagining it. Some were brutally sarcastic. One even called it physically impossible. It was quite disturbing to read the tone with which their comments were written: with an almost religious zeal to them, that, in their world, no such thing could be possible.

Now, what I find interesting about all of this is how closed-minded many people are. They seem to be reasoning solely from their own experience of the world - and not allowing for the possibility that other people have other experiences, abilities and potentials. All of the doubters seem not to know what the possibilities are for the most gifted of humans: they seem to think that all humans are much the same, that there is no great disparity between them. Nothing could be less true, of course - there are immense differences between people and that is what gives the human race vitality.

Basically, the key argument used by those who poured scorn on the mother was that they had not spoken at such an age, their children had not spoken at such an age - and they knew no child who had - therefore your child couldn't have either. I find this a marvellous display of impoverished thought. They have taken a sample of humanity amounting to their handful of a social circle - and they have generalized, from that, the entire properties and possibilties of the human race. It would make me guffaw were it not so sad in the effect it has on others. By thinking so, they prevent the gifted few among them, from being accepted or acceptable.

There are children who have talked at only a few months old - or less, as with mine. My post on the First Words of a Child Prodigy has attracted tales of such experiences from all over the world. Some children have crawled and walked very early too. These things happen. It makes no sense to denounce the mothers and fathers of such children for simply talking about their experiences.

Let us put this situation into more concrete terms. Imagine that the news media did not cover athletics. Imagine that athletics was something that happened quietly, in other peoples' houses, where no-one could see it. This is, of course, exactly the situation with exceptional child development. It is not something that, generally speaking, is ever given a mention officially.

Now imagine further that someone wrote on a forum that their son could run a hundred metres in 9.76 seconds, from a standing start. Imagine that they confided it hesitantly, seeking support for this unusual situation. Imagine then that quite a few people denounced the parent, saying that they must be hallucinating...or worse. Imagine that they had reasoned, well, my son can only run a hundred metres in 16 seconds - and the fastest runner I have ever met can do it in you must be lying or deceiving yourself. Now, we all know, in the real world, that there are people who can run a 100 metres in less than 10 seconds. There are, in fact, quite a few of them, in the history of sport. So, someone who made such a statement would probably not be denounced. Indeed, you might feel indignant about it if someone was so denounced. You would probably rush to their defence with supportive anecdotes. Yet, the strange thing is that, in the world of early child development, there are remarkable things happening all over the world - yet, if people speak about them, many a voice will rise and denounce the parents with words to the effect: "That was not the way with my children, so it could not be the way with yours!"

Why, when it comes to the raising of children, are so many people so small-minded? Why can they not allow for the full range and diversity of humanity?

I would like to see a day when a first-time mother seeking help for her gifted child is not denounced for what she shares - but supported warmly by a world community that understands and would like to help.

Looking at the kinds of things that get written on boards across the world, I fear I may have rather a long time to wait.

(If you would like to learn more of Ainan Celeste Cawley, a scientific child prodigy, aged seven years and nine months, or his gifted brothers, Fintan, four years and two months, and Tiarnan, nineteen months, please go to: I also write of gifted education, IQ, intelligence, College, University, Chemistry, Science, genetics, left-handedness, precocity, child prodigy, child genius, baby genius, adult genius, savant, gifted adults and gifted children in general. Thanks.)

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 4:34 PM 


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