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“Shut up.” “You’re annoying.” “I’m going to kick your butt.”

Most people assume “gifted” children (I call them kite kids) have it easier than their peers; that their intellect will enable them to coast through school – and life.

Reality often looks different, though…

One of the biggest reasons is that kite kids’ brains develop differently than other children; not only in terms of intellectual capabilities, but in social-emotional areas, such as wisdom and maturity.

There can be a significant gap between intellect and these other traits; so much so that, in a sense, the child can be functioning at different ages simultaneously.

Confusing, right? I thought so, too. Then I realized it was a big part of why my son was continually ignored and bullied. (I’d been trying to figure it out for three years!)

The extent to which these developmental components are out of sync varies from one kite kid to another; however, the size of the disparity typically relates to how far off his I.Q. is from the norm.

In other words, the higher the child’s I.Q., the more uneven his development.

Take, for example, a seven-year-old, who scores in the top 2-3% of kids his age on standardized tests. He may enjoy creating advanced math equations, and know statistics about everything from the Mariana Trench to the world’s fastest and tallest roller coasters; yet he also may be scared of the dark and have a strong attachment to stuffed animals.

This disparity – called asynchronous development – can make it difficult for kite kids to fit in with any age group. Their vocabularies, interests and senses of humor, often are on par with older kids; however, their maturity level tends to be their chronological age – or even younger. Especially if they’re twice exceptional (2e).

If the kite kid is the oldest (or only) child in a family, and he doesn’t have close friends the same age, his parents may not have a good reference point for age-related milestones. They may simply know their child is smart and meeting the pediatrician’s age-driven targets.

When a child is functioning at different ages simultaneously

“Giftedness” can occur in several forms. Therefore, many believe asynchronous development – not the academic subject(s) in which the child is advanced – is actually the hallmark of giftedness.

I agree because it was partly my daughter’s asynchronous development that caused me to have her evaluated at age 8. (To my surprise, it was even more significant than I realized – and having a big impact on how she evaluated other girls’ character. The psychologist said this was unusual for a child her age.)

Giftedness: the bigger picture

As you might suspect, this uneven development leads to many misconceptions about what “giftedness” really means, and what it can look like to peers and adults. Here are some myths the National Association of Gifted Children (NAGC) points out on their website.

There are other indicators of “the G word,” too. Overexcitabilities (a.k.a. intensities) are another big one, and they contribute to a lot of the medical misdiagnosis that occurs in the “gifted” and 2e population.

All of us can help gifted kids navigate this

If you’re an educator and want to learn more about how asynchronous development and overexcitabilities can “show up” at school, visit my Traits of Gifted and 2e Learners that Educators Should Know page. (This is for everyone who teaches and supports students; not just gifted educators and school psychologists.)

If you’re a pediatrician, play therapist or other type of clinician who supports children, Traits of Gifted and 2e Children that Pediatric Clinicians Should Know page provides great insights for you as a health provider. (Again, medical misdiagnosis is a big one.)

No matter who you are, thank you for taking time to read about these types of intensities. I hope you’ll stick around to learn more.

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These kids tend to be very misunderstood, especially when they're twice exceptional (2e). Here's what educators, pediatricians & child mental health experts should know about asynchronous development.