is it usual for gifted boys to have some asd traits?

(58 Posts)
nicosmum Sun 24-May-15 20:20:05

I am trying to figure out if my gifted 4yo has aspergers syndrome or just some side effects from being gifted. (his preschool have said he is well ahead at maths and reading so that is why I make the gifted assumption). the problems are

lack of eye contact
lack of interaction with peers , just likes to do his own thing.
rages at small injustices e.g. if someone pushes in front on a slide, inability to just let it go.

I am trying to get an apt with a paediatrician but it is apparently a long process as need to go through HV first.

I just wanted to ask if other mum's have this sort of issue with their dc?

CtrlAltDelicious Sun 24-May-15 20:30:50

Disclaimer - I'm NOT an ASD specialist - just a teacher.
Your post relates to a good few exceptional boys I've taught. And it does seem to be boys, IME. Outstanding academically but often struggle socially. They can't always understand why others acted the way they did. If someone acts in a way they perceive as unfair, they will be in angry tears, etc. I find though that with some pupils like this, it is hugely beneficial to calmly talk them through why X happened or Y did what he did, and they take it on board and think it through. With others, however, they lack the emotional maturity and empathy to grasp these situations despite being academically brilliant.

Springintosummer Sun 24-May-15 20:36:35

Have you spoken to the teacher to see if school staff have any concerns?

nicosmum Sun 24-May-15 20:53:36

Delicious thank for your reassuring post. hopefully ds will improve as he matures.it is hard - I know he is quirky just not sure where quirky turns into asd.

preschool have mentioned that he doesn't interact much with other kids. But he doesn't tend to have meltdowns there anymore so the lack of interaction is the only thing really. I mentioned asd but they weren't sure and said they saw what I meant but werent experts. his keyworker is lovely but only about 20 so not very experienced.

madwomanbackintheattic Sun 24-May-15 20:54:11

I have one like that. Officially he is 2e, but tbh the jury will always be out on whether he is 'just' gifted, and that is causing the ASD/ innattentive ADD symptoms, or whether his dual Dx is correct. We have psychs on both sides of the fence.

To be honest, it doesn't really matter. For whatever reason, these social skills are something he struggles with, and so he needs extra help for them. The label isn't really a big deal (and although you will billions of articles and books about 2e, there is no actual way to definitively figure it out.

I actually have two kids who are 2e (one boy, one girl) and one (girl) who is 'just' gifted. Both of the 2e kids struggle with injustice to a greater extent than their 'just' gifted sister. But my son with 2e has greater problems with maturity and social skills than his 2e sister intrinsically (eye contact/ anxiety). But his 2e sister struggles less with her own social ability but has greater problems with others not accepting her iykwim. Interestingly, she has much bigger issues with social justice than her brother such that many people have suggested that she will end up as a high court judge lol. She also exhibits far more of the gifted OEs in general.

Both were vastly ahead at pre-school (dd2 had taught herself to read before she could talk, and ds1 was being run with school aged kids at three, because he just had some of weird innate maths ability...) but to be honest ds1 was pretty socially ordinary at 4 - dead chatty with everyone. The ASD/ innattentiveness became obvious later - you can read up on the differences / similarities between ADHD hyperfocus and giftedness, but again - can be impossible to work out which is which in reality. Teachers would struggle to keep him engaged as there is so much repetition in the early years, so he would listen, get it, but then daydream as he had already learned the point of the lesson (or knew it anyway) so he found the mindless repetitiveness very hard going. His teachers loved him, would joke with him on a much more mature level, and knew he understood whatever was going on. Sadly, they did all let him down a bit, because the lack of challenge and expectation to complete the same work as everyone else meant that he developed no actual study skills whatsoever, and to this day he still entirely relies on hearing something once and then churning it back out when needed.

Ds1 didn't pick up a dx until he was 9, btw - purely because his teachers knew that he was ahead in academic terms, so the rest of his issues weren't really addressed.

Dd2 has always been recognised as 2e as her disability is much more obvious (she has cp, not AS, although we also wondered about AS early on as tbh she was pretty quirky grin her issues are definitely not ASD though, but I think most parents of gifted kids ponder AS at some point lol)

madwomanbackintheattic Sun 24-May-15 21:01:00

I should also add that school made dd2 see a counsellor for two years because she wasn't mixing with other kids in the playground (around y2/3). Essentially, she loved her time with the counsellor, as she was more on wavelength with her than any of the girls in the class who wanted to bicker and squabble and play games to allocate popularity lol. Dd2 couldn't have cared less and was quite happy mooching about on her own. She mixed fine in lessons.

I do applaud the school for being proactive. Due to her disability there is a higher chance of her being socially shunned lol, so school were very much on the ball. It was just in this case, the gifted bit meant that she didn't have anything in common with her peers. (Her y1 teacher had suggested skipping a year, but the HT wouldn't, based on the fact she had sn. So she was kept with her alleged physical peers lol... Interesting decision!!)

Mistigri Sun 24-May-15 21:14:59

Anecdotally this does seem to be more common with boys.

My 12 year old had a lot of Aspergers type behaviours as a younger child - poor eye contact, difficulties interacting, lack of imaginative play, hypersensitive to sounds, touch and food texture, liked order and routine, very stressed by noisy/busy environments (as a result preschool was difficult and we moved him into formal education a year early on the advice of the school - he could already read and was 2-3 years ahead in maths). I suspect that if we lived in the UK we'd have gone down the road of assessment for an ASD.

I'm now pretty sure he is not on the spectrum though - gradually a lot of the more obviously "odd" behaviours disappeared, and his social skills have improved beyond recognition since he's been in secondary school. He's still the geeky science kid but he seems to have found his niche smile

Strictlyison Sun 24-May-15 22:14:44

Yes here as well. Would not respond to name, focus for long periods of time on one toy even very young, would put toys in category of colour and size, put cars in line with smallest a t the front and bigger at the back (at about one year old). Would look at clocks or anything with numbers and be fixated on the object. He also didn't speak before he was 3 but was diagnosed with Verbal Dyspraxia, which is occasionally classified to be on the autistic spectrum - this is controversial and not the common view. He was also hypersensitive so sounds and terrified of hand dryers, hair dryers, drills, etc.

In reception he struggled with social skills, but this was often blamed on lack of speech. Now he is in year 3 and has lots of friends, is very confident, chatty, outgoing, enjoys drama classes, can speak in school assemblies, and has a girlfriend!

Theas18 Sun 24-May-15 22:21:03

Interesting observation. DS who is in most ways the least spectrum person you can imagine is bright ? Gifted.

As a primary child he found friends difficult and often did his own thing. He had an aversion to change so badly that at 8 or so, when he came home to a surprise new bed came over faint and had to lie in the sofa !

He's now at uni. Geeking out but very much normal amongst his peers there.

rotaryairer Mon 25-May-15 07:02:15

This book is very useful and was recommended by NAGC: www.amazon.co.uk/Misdiagnosis-Diagnoses-Gifted-Children-Adults/dp/0910707677

Went down the ASD route with DS but it turned out that he does not have ASD. In the book they have a page of similarities followed by a page of distinct differences. It even says that G&T and Aspergers may even be linked on a spectrum with one tipping over into the other.

Superexcited Mon 25-May-15 07:14:11

My DS who is gifted and particularly exceptional at maths has some asd traits but was assessed at the age of four and the paediatrician and ed psych concluded that he was just a very bright boy and didn't have asd. They said he was capable of imaginative play (which they witnessed lots of) and that he initiated play amongst his peers very well.
He struggles socially and has a very unrealistic (because children often cheat in games) sense of justice and fairness which has caused no end of problems in the playground. I think over the years it has become more apparent that the reason he struggles socially is partly because he is interested in different things to other boys and cannot understand why others his age don't understand things that he sees as being very simple. He also doesn't understand why other children cheat during games and thinks it is unfair and unjustified.
We still ask ourselves if the assessment was wrong and if our DS does have some level of asd but from everything we have read it does seem that he fits the criteria of gifted better than the criteria for asd.
He is off to a very selective school later this year courtesy of a very significant scholarship/bursary and I am hoping he will find other boys there who are 'more on his level'.

gatorgolf Mon 25-May-15 08:12:43

Just marking my place as sound exactly like my ds age 5

Mistigri Mon 25-May-15 15:40:25

Superexcited this lack of understanding of others is something I see in my DS too. He really does struggle to understand why other kids don't "get" concepts that are simple for him (he thinks they should "just listen in class") and he also struggles to understand why boys his age (equivalent of Y8) behave stupidly and don't think through the consequences of their actions.

It's not strictly lack of empathy as he seems to be pretty empathetic in other circumstances. It's as if he understands how people feel, but not how they think.

I really struggle to see this as a gifted trait though, as my much more highly gifted DD isn't like this at all. She has excellent social skills and she's a "natural psychologist" in the sense that she finds it easy to understand and anticipate how other people think and react.

Blipbip Mon 25-May-15 20:14:05

There have been a few suggestions about DS having AS traits also but I have strongly resisted any formal assessment. He is only 5yo so, although he is very quirky, I tend to see it as emotional immaturity (he still has epic tantrums). There are a few gifted members in my family so perhaps I am more relaxed about some of DS's more quirky traits as he is not really any more quirky than his uncles were at that age.
DS was a very young reader and is an absolute lover of maths but is still struggling to talk (partly verbal dyspraxia, I suspect but not diagnosed, and partly because he just doesn't seem to have the words that he wants to use IYSWIM - he tends to speak English like it's a foreign language), he can concentrate for hours if it is a task he wants to perfect, he can be unresponsive to his name, he is also petrified of hand driers. But he has no problem with imaginative play - he is convinced that a boy in China is 'playing' him on an xbox! and he happily initiates play with other children.

Anecdotally from my family, yes the boys did tend to be more quirky than the girls.

I read the misdiagnosis book with a huge amount of interest and it did help strengthen my resolve that there is nothing 'wrong' with DS.

nicosmum Mon 25-May-15 20:27:37

Thank you for all the great replies - they have been hugely reassuring. In rl I don't really know anyone with a child like mine so it's nice to know he probably isn't that unusual (on mn at least). Superexcited your comment about your son getting cross which other children didn't follow rules properly definitely struck a chord!

I am now in 2 minds about whether to go ahead with seeing a paediatrician. I guess it would be good to have it confirmed one way or the other as at least if he does have asd then it will (hopefully) be easier to access help when/if he needs it. But I am now more hopeful that the lack of interaction and dreadful rages will get less as he gets older. smile

Willdoitinaminute Mon 25-May-15 22:38:14

DS 10 is quirky and we have wondered whether he has Aspergers but he has always been fine socially and hasn't struggled making friends. He still loves to play imaginative games with his beloved dinosaurs ( we have around 200 of them) and can daydream/ zone out on an Olympic level. Something I also do which infuriates my DH. He has an incredible vocabulary which astonishes people when they chat to him but he has learnt to dum down as he is more aware now that it doesn't always impress other children. This alone suggests that Aspergers isn't an issue.
However over the years he seems to have left some friends behind intellectually. Fortunately he is at an academically selective school where he is streamed for maths and English and has a number of friends who are all, in his words "weird". Unfortunately we have had to go the private route, but he is a happy and challenged child who is not at odds with his peers.

RedKite5004 Tue 26-May-15 11:32:38

My DS is certainly quirky. I won't go into detail here but I have described him in my post about asynchronous development in this topic a couple of weeks ago. At the age of four my DS could quite easily have been regarded as Aspergic and in fact I did discuss it with the school at that time. He never had any issues with eye contact but within his peer group he struggled socially (and still does) although this is not the case when he is with older children and adults. He can zone out totally and concentrate for hours at a time on something that particularly interests him. He also used to put his hands over his ears when others in his class got very loud and over-excited and these were also considered to be a warning signs of ASD. As Blipbip mentions above my DS was also terrified of hand dryers but quickly memorised most of the manufacturers and the volume of noise emitted by them and will now happily use those he considers acceptable and just wipe his hands on his trousers if he comes across one he isn't happy with!
As he's got older (he's 7 now) the main "symptoms" have lessened significantly, the hands over the ears stopped by the time he turned 6.
At a recent parents evening I discussed the ongoing possibility of ASD with his teacher (who is also a child psychologist) and her view was that maybe he might be slightly aspergic but even if he was it wouldn't change the way he was taught or treated so to go down a diagnosis route could do more harm than good as he might well end up being labelled incorrectly.

Electrolux Tue 26-May-15 11:44:01

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

castlesintheair Tue 26-May-15 11:56:17

DS was extremely quirky at this age too. Probably up to the end of KS1 aged about 7 or 8. Not enough to have a label but a bit speech delayed and a bit dyspraxic and socially immature. He was gifted allegedly.

Now he is 13 and very clever (also lazy) but if he is gifted still, it's not so obvious as he has normalized in all other aspects so he doesn't stand out any more as the quirky, brainy, socially isolated boy he was when younger.

GooseyLoosey Tue 26-May-15 12:23:50

Ds (now 12) has been described by his teachers as exceptional. He has an IQ of about 157 and was at one point around 7 years ahead of his peers.

From starting primary school he found relationships with other children hard. He also had a very emphatic sense of right and wrong. He seemed unable to intuit social boundaries and was always the child who was left out of parties. Other parents would tell me "he's not like other children is he?" He is also very large for his age and exuberant and although he does not have an aggressive bone in his body can be perceived as such in much the same way as a large waggy labrador might be.

When he was 7 he was assessed by an ed pysch who concluded that ds actually met none of the diagnostic criteria for ASD but common to many children of his ability, he had no understanding of the motivations of his peers or they of him. He just could not get his head around the way they thought.

He also found the education system immensely frustrating as he was always waiting for other people to catch up.

On the advice of the EP we moved him to the most academically selective school we could find. The EP said that this would help as there would be more children on ds's wave length and he would stand out less and be more stimulated.

He is still not and never will be the most popular child. However, he is happy and does have a group of friends he hangs around with.

Superexcited Tue 26-May-15 13:27:43

goosey your DS sounds identical to mine. I am familiar with the lack of party invites and emphatic sense of right and wrong. When my son was assessed as a younger child his IQ was thought to be around 150, but I'm not sure what it would be now as he is very lazy and makes little effort at anything so might have slipped a little. He is still just as bright but has gotten to used to not needing to think very hard.
He had an assessment for asd at a young age (3 or 4) but the ed psych and paediatrician concluded that he didn't have asd and that he was just academically very ahead of his peers and had little in common with them and couldn't really understand them.
He starts at a very academically selective school in September so I'm hoping that he will find a group of like minded peers and feel a little bit more accepted.

GooseyLoosey Tue 26-May-15 13:32:18

Superexcited - it has definitely helped ds. There are children there who get him and the school is more able to deal with children on ds's wave length.

The other good thing is that it is OK to be clever at the school. The school are very open about who is top in exams etc. Not good for every child, but it has helped ds to be valued for what he can do rather than being ridiculed.

sunnydayinmay Thu 18-Jun-15 19:15:20

DS1 was just like this, and I also spent most of years 1-5 watching and wondering whether it was a spectrum thing. School said he was "quirky", and have been fantastically supportive. He is now Year 6, hitting puberty, and is confident, bright and happy, but still clearly sensitive, still has a number of sensory issues, and his views are very black and white.

yomellamoHelly Thu 18-Jun-15 19:27:00

Yes for my oldest. His primary just don't get him at all. Hope he'll flourish at secondary. Think the boredom doesn't help with all his little tics as they all disappear when he's properly engaged and interacts with others properly when he's engaged. Tends to seek out adults to talk to as is more on their wavelength and gets very frustrated at being talked down to when his understanding goes far beyond the situation. Has had some really "deep" conversations with various friends of ours. Better than with his peers. Is strange.

Soveryupset Sun 21-Jun-15 17:45:34

Oh my goodness, I am so glad I found this thread. This is my DS1 to a tee.

He is August born and will turn 9 in August. Always been exceptionally bright since a very young age; I remember people rolling eyes and thinking he was hugely hot housed whilst not realising that my other three were nothing like him and it had nothing to do with our parenting skills!

We'd had a lot of issues with DS1 - he is very well behaved, so was never referred at school, but has temper issues and cannot cope with change or certain behaviours. He doesn't really get social cues and displays loads of traits described above, including sensory issues.

I am marking my place, hoping that he will just learn the social aspects with age - holidays are difficult, with the other three being relatively easy to deal with, but DS1 becoming a nightmare if he's not entertained 24/7 or left completely alone to be a geek - both of which are quite hard to do in our busy house!!!

PS he had also a lot of tics, which disappeared when we moved him schools. He HATED the change and took him 1 year to adjust, but we knew we'd done something right as all his ticks (and there were many) disappeared.

I have some level of empathy with him as I was exactly like him, although it was easier for me to keep myself to myself for many reasons.

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