Al was a little boy who had loving, well educated parents and a great home environment. His mom loved to take him and his sister on outings, play music and read books to them. He had a close relationship with his little sister that carried throughout their lives. His father gave him a compass when he was little and he was fascinated by it. He was a bright boy.
When Al got to school, things got harder for him. He really didn't like school. See, Al wasn't talking much yet. Verbal communication was not his forte. He was 9 before he could successfully communicate his thoughts well. Following the strict school setting and focusing on what the teacher wanted him to was not going so well. He just wasn't interested in what the teacher wanted to do. He was doing poorly in school. One teacher went so far as to tell his parents that Al would never make a success of anything. His parents didn't believe that teacher. One day Al's uncle gave him a geometry book and he loved it. He started to do really well in math.
When Al was a teenager, his family had to make a move and it was determined it would be best for him to finish at boarding school. It was a mess. He didn't get along with his peers. They teased him for his ethnic background. He still didn't do well outside of math and science. He left boarding school. After testing and failing to get into a prestigious institute, the director, recognizing his very high scores in math and science suggested he study and test again. He got in the second time. He did finish school this time, but he was a disorganized and absent minded student. The teachers were often exasperated at all his questioning and the fact that he refused to study things he wasn't interested in. He was moody one day and happy go lucky the next.
Al lived in a time when there weren't a hundred acronyms: no special ed classes, gifted programs, or child psychologists around to help him. Today he would have an IEP to accommodate him. He may have been labeled PDD or ADD or ODD or any combination of things. He might have been considered to be on the autism spectrum. He might not have had a label, but that didn't change the fact that some parts of life were quite hard for him. Luckily. he was one of the children with enough going for him to make it through school. Many kids with similar issues didn't, and don't, fare so well. In spite of all their wonderful abilities, they end up dropping out or in dead end jobs that never utilize their full potential. Many struggle their whole lives somehow out of step with the rest of humanity and unable to get along with people.
Al struggled after school to find good jobs with his track record. Later on however, he received recognition and acclaim for his Theory of Relativity. In time, the whole world came to recognize and appreciate the brilliant and wonderful person that he was, that his parents always knew he was. His life wasn't without bumps, but he was easily one of the most influential people in the modern world and most of our technology, your cell phone for example, is based on his work. So, the next time you look at that boy who doesn't talk much yet, or seems moody or quirky, or doesn't pay attention in class, or stubbornly refuses to do his homework, just remember, you may be looking at the next Einstein.