6yo excelling academically but struggling socially(11 Posts)
My 6yo yr 2 dd (and August born so young in the year) is doing very well academically - she’s been tested as being at yr6 level for reading and spelling and reported to be doing above averagely for maths so no worries about that side of things but I have some worries about her socially. Basically she has NO filter, she will say what’s in her head whether or not that may be upsetting to the person she’s speaking to - saying things like ‘my work is harder than yours’ and ‘you are doing that wrong, you haven’t thought it through’ during group work. I don’t think she’s showing off as such, she just says what’s in her head and states the facts without thinking.
She is reported by her teacher to play alongside her classmates and she does interact with them but she doesn’t have a particular friendship group. At playtime she plays with a child 2 years above her in school and they seem to play well together but I would like her to play with her classmates too really.
She is young in the year, and her teacher didn’t seem worried but I hate the thought of the other children losing patience with her (and I can see why they would!) and in a few years her having no real friends. She is I suppose a quirky child, but she’s generally happy. I have tried to explain several times that she needs to think before speaking. Should I be worried or doing anything else? For comparison her sister is doing well at school, is of a higher level but not so high and has close friendships with the same children she played with at age 3.
Thank you for reading!
It’s difficult but I think she will eventually make friend with someone her age when she meets someone with similar interests. DS struggled all the way through primary school (that doesn’t sound good does it) but really found good friends in high school as he found more kids who have stuff in common with him (as in other geeks who are into maths and coding and chess etc, and not into football). Your DD will probably have to learn as she goes to mellow down with her classmates. Obviously you can speak to her about it and give her pointers, but she may have to learn the hard way.
I know Ds struggled as he wanted everyone to play ‘his’ way. He was very inflexible. He had no friends at school until y4, and the one friend year 5 and 6. Now in year 7 he has loads as geeks seem to have the ability to spot each other!!
Have you thought about trying to role play playing games with her? Social communication training - for some of us, it’s a skill you have to consciously learn.
Going - she is very inflexible in her thinking as well - she has an idea of how things should be done and gets very upset if anyone suggests any kind of deviation away from that. She is also very upset if she perceives that rules have been broken or not followed exactly. She is quite ‘geeky’ in that she loves doing her homework (unlike her sister who is a nightmare at homework time!), she spent this afternoon reading her encyclopaedia
User she is happy to pretend play, and we often have a conversation along the lines of ‘how would you feel if someone told you that you were doing your work wrong?’ but she genuinely doesn’t get it - in her little head she’s just stating a fact and she hasn’t got any perception of why that can sometimes be upsetting.
I’d be a bit more directive about things not to say, social rules to learn. If it’s not intuitively chiming with her you probably need to approach it like learning anything else and narrate expected behaviour clearly. Mine regularly ignores people and I had to say ‘you should say hello if someone says hello, you should smile back if someone smiles at you, you should smile or say hello if you pass someone you know’, ‘it appears rude if you ask how long a play date will last when people arrive’ etc.
If it’s not bothering her though, the main worry is that she’s perhaps upsetting other kids unintentionally? They all do a bit do that though. As you say she’ll probably realise better communication as she gets older.
I like user450788's role play idea. I used to get teddies to help. A teddy doing something wrong, you could explain it to teddy with her help. Giving the reassurance that it is okay to make mistakes, (that's why you have childhood), also gives them the room to alter.
Ds was the same as this at 5-6 and at 7 diagnosed with autism which explains a lot in terms of not seeing why blunt comments might hurt others feelings and struggling with social play and friendships. School is very difficult for him now and he doesn't have a peer group and actually doesn't go to school (but that is a separate story!). Considering when he was at preschool he had lots of children to play with and was happy, it's quite a shock. I think one day he'll find his tribe.
I would read up on Asperger's syndrome or high functioning autism as it is called nowadays. Read up on hyperlexia as well. Not everything will match but if you read far and wide you might see similarities.
Yes, my first thought was ASD. It’s not uncommon for some autistic children to be very academically able but have social and communication difficulties.
When did she first show signs of being gifted? Any speech delays as a toddler?
I was going to suggest looking at ASD too. Aspergers is no longer diagnosed (it’s ASD now) but it’s worth reading around that too.
I hope you’re not too shocked OP. I’ve been on the autism treadmill for a while (my son is 4 and awaiting a diagnosis) and for a long time I just knew he was different but wasn’t convinced it was autism. He hasn’t ever displayed any of the big “red flag” traits you hear about (lining up toys, flapping, sensory issues etc). By the time a paediatrician decided he warranted an assessment, six months ago, I still wasn’t convinced, but didn’t object to him being assessed.
A few weeks later he started reading words. He was 3y10m at the time. At first I thought it was a lucky/educated guess but I soon realised he was reading. I’d vaguely heard of hyperlexia, Googled it and it was him to a tee. His preschool SENCO nodded in recognition and said “some children have a spiky profile” (i.e. advanced in some areas, impaired in others). Since then I’ve spoken to other people who know far more about autism than I do, who nod knowingly when I talk about teaching himself to read/number recognition way above a four year old level.
Lots of things you’ve mentioned do point towards autism - the giftedness, the inflexible thinking, rule following, geekiness, lack of empathy, quirky, no filter... Try not to panic, but consider your options and talk to the school in September.
They might say “she’s fine!” IIRC schools are inclined to say there’s no problem when a girl is bright, academic and has no behavioural issues. I’m not entirely convinced my older child (girl, going into y3) is neurotypical, but she’s a model pupil so school just say she’s fine.
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