PSA: Early Onset Rapid Aging Syndrome

Typically on The Very Special Blog, we talk about funny things like illegal substance abuse in schools, teen pregnancy, and racism. Today, however, we turn our focus to a serious issue in the child star community: Early Onset Rapid Aging Syndrome. Early Onset Rapid Aging Syndrome is a rare but serious condition that affects many children born into the middle to late stages of a sitcom. Research scientists believe that the origin of this disorder may triggered by the trauma of being born during a “jump the shark” period. However, the underlying root of the problem remains unknown.

Families are instructed by their doctors not to acknowledge the sudden growth of their infants or toddlers into precocious elementary school children. The common belief being that this practice will best protect the children from the stress of realizing that their best childhood years are behind them and the looming pressure to be a sassy eight year old is all that is left for them in this world. Fortunately, most cases of Early Onset Rapid Aging Syndrome seem to dissipate after the initial acute onset, leaving no other lasting complications or continued aging beyond the normal rate. In fact, most of the children appear not to have noticed or cared that they have suddenly aged. Their young minds are, perhaps, unaware of their swift progression because they lacked a general awareness as young babies, existing only as cute props and charming cutaways from their parents’ and older siblings’ drama or antics.

Case References for the aforementioned Early Onset Rapid Aging Disorder:

-Chrissy from Growing Pains-

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Chrissy was a happy and otherwise health child.
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But over the course of roughly four months, she went from a babe-in-arms to a spunky six year-old in what is considered to be one of the most severe cases ever.

-Morgan from Boy Meets World-

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Morgan was the youngest of three children and aged normally through preschool.
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Morgan began spending a lot of time in her room (likely during the early stages of the disorder) and emerged months later like a 4th grade butterfly from her preschool cocoon.

-Richie from Family Matters-

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Richie was an adorable baby.
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But he skipped the terrible twos and went straight to preschool. This case it notable because it also caused rapid mullet onset–a rare but serious complication of the disorder.

-Little Ricky from I Love Lucy-

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In one of the first recorded cases of EORAS, this Cuban-American toddler aged normally for the first couple of years of his life.
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Little Ricky quickly grew into a six year old with excellent percussion skills. The fact that the children (while chronologically younger) seem to have all of the fine motor skills and verbalization associated with their physical age is of note.

-Nelson & Winnie from The Cosby Show-

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Fraternal Twins, Nelson and Winnie, both suffered from this disorder. This would suggest a higher prevalence between first degree siblings. However, many families with EORAS children have other children that seem to age at the normal rate. The fact that two fraternal twins were both affected by this disorder may suggest some kind of in utero trauma.
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Fortunately, Nelson and Winnie seem to have only developed a minor case of the disorder and appeared to begin to age normal again after the acute onset subsided at physical age three (medical approximation).

-Nicky and Alex from Full House-

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In another case of twin EORAS, Nicky and Alex Katsopolis (identical twins) aged rapidly only to physical age three before return to normal aging speed. This may suggest that twins with EORAS actually suffer from less extreme cases than single children (i.e. Morgan or Chrissy). Their symptoms seem to begin at an earlier age and slow down after aging three or less physical years.
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Post-acute onset Nicky and Alex, appearing to be trauma-free and healthy with their dog, Comet.

-Lily on Modern Family-

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While previously thought to have been eradicated in the early to mid 1990’s, EORAS resurfaced most recently in the case of charming two year-old Lily.
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While not the most severe of cases (approximately aging two physical years), Lily’s case is remarkable in that it seems to have also affected her personality. Once a sweet, charming child, Lily is now incredibly rude.

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3 thoughts on “PSA: Early Onset Rapid Aging Syndrome

  1. OMG No! I am so devastated! I updated the tags for this post from the STUPID wordpress app (for shame wordpress app!) and it deleted ALL of my captions, which was like ALL of the post. Be forewarned that this is what happens when you draft a post on your home computer, schedule things on your phone in safari, and then update your tags in the app. (Well, that does seem like a really stupid way to do things now that I think of it). So thanks for liking it anyway @hemcfeely. You can read the real thing because I cross-posted it to BlogHer http://www.blogher.com/psa-early-onset-rapid-aging-syndrome. But like maybe I’ll try to fix the captions right now…

  2. I’m not sure Morgan counts. If you assume the show took place in real time the teenage cast ALSO aged (they graduate at 18, 5 years after they were 11) faster than normal. But it might make more sense to just assume that some seasons of the show (including the one with Morgan’s temporary Chuck Cunningham Syndrome) took place over a period of more than one year in-story.

    1. That could make sense except that Corey & Shawn are super excited NOT to be freshman anymore at the beginning of the 3rd season, and Corey & Topanga both turn 16 in season 4. So at most Morgan could have aged in absence about 2 years, but she clearly aged like twice that amount. For a show that’s literally about growing up, this show has some of the worst continuity errors.

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