People ask, “Does your child have Asperger syndrome?”

The social development of gifted children is remarkably unique. Often confused with Asperger syndrome or attention deficit disorder by professionals who have limited experience with gifted children, these diagnostic labels are misleading and create a host of stresses and misunderstandings for parents and their children. Social hyperactivity (ADHD) or social withdrawal (autistic spectrum disorder) are common diagnoses that lead to misperceptions and inappropriate interventions.

Social development for prodigies and precocious children evolves with curious highs and lows in comparison to non-gifted children. Gifted children from a very early age can find their peers uninteresting and prefer to play with older children or adults who are as quick as they are. Having more mature interests than same age peers, playing with age mates/same age peers can be boring and frustrating. Gifted children have sophisticated interests and talents that need to be expressed and understood in a social situation—with other people looking on. Intellectual curiosity, a heightened sensitivity to others and the world around them, creative interests, and musical and athletic talents are intense and can be hard to understand or believe. Directing the growth of any type of giftedness is very difficult. People unfamiliar with gifted kids can view them as extremely odd. Without a doubt and in all actuality, gifted kids are remarkable people who need to be nurtured, not seen as as misfits/oddballs.

Social issues will also be apparent because gifted children can be very emotionally intense or deal with their feeling by keeping their feelings hidden behind “their imaginary screen.” Feelings will break through in tantrums that are frightening to everyone including your child. The child who is a nonstop talker or the child who stays in the corner reading a book are expressing emotional intensity in different ways. Separation anxiety and fearfulness about the future are common traits that make friendship-making unique. Teachers and parents become concerned that their child is not behaving normally.

Other problems can arise when gifted kids attend school, such as:
1.  Difficulty following the rules that they did not make up themselves (gifted kids like to make their own rules).
2.  Boredom with ideas that are not compelling to them.
3.  Withdrawal or refusal to go to school.
4.  Acting out anger and frustration in the classroom.
5.  Difficulty working in a group in the classroom or on the playground.
6.  Over-reactiveness to directions from parents and teachers.

What helps:
1.  Patience and understanding.
2.  Extra attention and encouragement to emotional issues.
3.  Staying calm and positive.

Finally, finding teachers, other parents and professionals who have experience and knowledge of gifted children can really help.