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General Information About Giftedness

Social-Emotional Needs of Gifted Children

Accleration and Early College

Maryland Gifted Resources

 

Over the past few years, there has been an increase in the number of Asperger's diagnosis amongst children. Considered by many to be a mild form of autism, Asperger's is generally characterized by poor social skills and a repetitive pattern of thoughts or behaviors. Generally, children with Asperger's do not experience a delay in language acquisition nor do they present with impaired cognitive delays.



According the the DMS-IV TR, Asperger's may be diagnosed IF AT LEAST TWO of the following factors appear in the child:

  • Marked impairment in the use of multimple nonverbal behaviors such as eye-to-eye contace gaze, facial expression, body postures, and gestures to regulate social interaction;
  • Failure to develop peer relationships appropriate to developmental level;
  • A lack of spontaneous seeking to share enjoyment, interests, or achievements with other people (e.g., by a lack of showing, bringing, or pointing out objects of interest ot other people);
  • Lack of social or emotional reciprocity.

Parents should keep in mind that poor social skills alone is not enough to warrant an Aspergers diagnosis. If a highly or profoundly gifted child (or any child, for that matter) has never had the chance to be treated fairly and kindly by age peers, it goes without saying that these children will either withdraw into their own world or lash out in a desperate attempt to be accepted.

It may certainly looks like these children have poor social skills, but that is not always the case. Once HG/PG kids have the opportunity to meet intellectual and/or true age peers, you often see a drastic change in their ability to socialize. It follows logical sense, really. The child feels accepted and respected for who they are so they become more comfortable in their own skin and are able to interact without fear of reprisal from their peers.

Other characteristics, such as an inability to maintain eye contact or the non-spontaneity of sharing interests, can also be explained by poor self-esteem of the pg child. A person who has been consistenly shunned or reprimanded for who they are and how they think, which is often the case with HG/PG kids who are not understood by their classmates or teachers, will generally withdraw from these common social interactions. When considering these various criteria for determining an Aspergers diagnosis, parents may want to look at the child's overall life. If you are seeing these types of atypical social behavior consistently across a wide variety of settings, not just school, then it may be Aspergers. But, if you know for certain that your child is capable of exercising good nonverbal behaviors with trusted individuals and in emotionally safe settings, then you may want to question whether Aspergers is really the underlying cause.



In addition to the social piece, the DSM-IV TR goes on to stipulate that AT LEAST ONE of the following restricted repetitive and stereotyped patterns of behavior, interests, and activities must be present before Asperger's can be diagnosed:

  • Encompassing preoccupation with one or more stereotyped and restricted patterns of interest that is agnomrla either in intensity or focus;
  • Apparently inflexible adherence to specific, nonfunctional routines or rituals;
  • Stereotyped and repetitive motor mannerisms (e.g., hand or finger flapping or twisitng, or cmplex whole-body movements)
  • Persistent preoccupation with parts of objects

The repetitive behavioral patterns of Asperger's, like rocking on toes or finger flapping, tend to be thought of as give-aways, if you will, for Asperger's. These mannerisms, however, could possibly be related to an obsessive compulsive disorder that's been assumed by the child in order to deal with the overall stress they may be feeling in life. Or, such behavior patterns may be an indicator of an overexcitability or an excess of energy. Behaviors like hyper focus on one topic might also be explained by a HG/PG fascination with an area of learning. Taking the time track such behaviors across settings may help in discerning if they are stress related, a gifted characteristic, or a true indicator of Asperger's.



Finally, the DSM-IV TR requires the following four criteria to be met before an Asperger's diagnosis can be rendered:

  • The disturbance causes clinically significant impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning;
  • There is no clinically significant general delay in language (e.g., singles words used by age 2 years, communicative phrases used by age 3 years);
  • There is no clinically significant delay in cognitive development or in the development of age-appropriate self- help skills, adaptive behavior (other than in social interaction), curiosity about the environment in childhood;
  • Criteria are not met for another specific Pervasive Developemental Disorder or Schizophrenia

Prior to accepting a diagnosis for Asperger's Syndrome, parents of gifted children may want to consider their personal observations against those of a teacher and an object 3rd party and weigh them balanced the diagnostic criteria. Consulting with a trained developmental psychologist who is experienced in working with highly and profoundly gifted children will help families in ascertaining their chid's true needs and how to best help them.


                 

 
Sunday
April 23, 2017

 

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