Olivia, at three, has memorized every dinosaur in the book which she is beginning to read, by the way. Eli dresses in a different costume every day of pre-school and will respond if you address him by whatever character he is that day. Lee plays endlessly with every clock he can get his hands on, and disassembles them if he can. Well-meaning friends and family ask concerned questions about Asperger’s and autism. Others assure you that your child must be gifted. When your child is with other children, your don’t know whether to be pleased or concerned. If your child is developing in an atypical pattern, ask yourself first if he or she seems happy most of the time. Does he or she get along well with other children, even if those children are a different age. If teachers or other professionals offer labels or diagnoses, politely ask if they have training in that area, or if they are speculating. If you are concerned, find a child development or psychology professional who has ben trained to recognize the nature of those differences. Ask them about their training, because they might not have training in recognizing the differences and similarities among autism, giftedness and, quirkiness. In case you are interested, Olivia grew up to be a gifted scientist. Eli is in graduate school in International Relations, and Lee is a materials engineer, and still pretty quirky.
Key Idea: Children are born with different temperaments and styles. If you are worried, consult a child development professional.