Anyone who has worked with children knows that the idea of the “normal” child is a fiction. All children are asynchronous in some area of development. They learn to walk early, learn to ride a bicycle late, learn to read early, learn their multiplication tables late.
Gifted children, however, are in part defined by the extreme nature of their asychronous development. A parent’s first indication that her child is different is often the lack of synchrony with the “milestones” presented in parenting books. One gifted child makes eye contact his first week. Another gifted child doesn’t speak until the age of four. One gifted child will only “parallel play” long after other kids have broken off into friendships. Another gifted child wants to have intellectual conversations with every grown-up he meets.
Asynchronous development in gifted children often follows a pattern of advanced development of analytical abilities combined with retarded development of social and emotional abilities. Typically, gifted children will show advanced abilities in some of these areas:
- Mathematical reasoning
At the same time, gifted children are likely to show a slowed development in some of these areas:
- Emotional awareness
- Emotional control
- Play/social abilities with other children
- Social understanding of groups
- Politeness/social acceptability
The particular areas of advanced and slowed development, however, are not necessarily consistent. Some gifted children show an early interest in social behaviors, while other gifted children have delayed language development. An extreme asynchronicity is itself, however, a good indication that a child will exhibit other aspects of a gifted learner as he develops.
- “Asynchronous parenting”
This article written by the parent of two gifted children compares and contrasts the experience of raising two very different gifted children, both of them asynchronous in their development.
- “Asynchronous development and sensory integration intervention in the gifted and talented population”
This article explores the question of when asynchronous behaviors in gifted children need to be treated as disorders.
- “Asynchrony: Homeschooling an Exceptionally Gifted Child”
This article explores reasons for homeschooling when a child’s asynchronous development is so extreme that schools have a hard time making appropriate accommodations.