Elizabeth Barrett was 17 months old at the time of the 2 embedded videos here. Her parents Katy and Michael Barrett are both speech pathologists. Even with the knowledge about the parents professions, Elizabeth's ability is still quite remarkable.
The study of child prodigies is very interesting, with every example shedding further light on this phenomenon. With Elizabeth, according to parents, it is plausible that being taught sign language from an early age was a major learning catalyst.
The early signs with Elizabeth included:
- A large verbal and sign vocabulary emerging by 6 months of age.
- Pointing to and approximating words in familiar books by 8 months of age.
- Early pretend-play skills before she could walk.
- Alphabet recognition before her first birthday.
Despite the delight at their daughter's ability the Barrett's were still concerned about the possibility of a phenomenon called "hyperlexia" which essentially means accelerated reading ability. Hyperlexia may be a "splinter skill" (an isolated enhanced ability) associated with Asperger's syndrome or other autism-spectrum conditions. Thankfully, Elizabeth is "exceedingly social and well-rounded", and the medical opinions have been that she is otherwise a normal little girl who happens to be bright.
Elizabeth and her parents live in Lubbock Texas, which is coincidentally the current home of a previous child chess prodigy - Susan Polgar [Susan Polar Institute of Chess Excellence, Texas Tech University, Lubbock].
The parents have set up a website about Elizabeth - http://www.elizabethreads.com/index.html