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The Basics of Asynchronous Development

Asynchronous development is a term frequently used in the world of gifted education. As the name implies it has to do with events that are not occurring at the same time as each other. In the case of gifted children this refers to intellectual, chronological, social and physical age. As any child grows it is natural that these areas do not all develop at the same rate. In gifted children, however, the variances among these ages is much more pronounced. For example, intellectual age in gifted children is going to be beyond their actual years which is part of what makes them gifted. The higher the IQ the more there is a gap among the other areas.

Before continuing letís briefly define these age categories.

Chronological: The childís actual age according to when he or she was born
Intellectual: Related to IQ; indicates at what level the child can understand and process information
Social: The level at which the child interacts with others and carries out peer relationships
Physical: The gross and fine motor skills of which the childís body and brain are capable

Here are a few examples of how this might play out:

~ Chronological age: 8
~ Intellectual age: 10
~ Social age: 7
~ Motor/Physical age: 9

~ Chronological age: 4
~ Intellectual age: 7
~ Social age: 5
~ Motor/Physical age: 4

~ Chronological age: 12
~ Intellectual age: 16
~ Social age: 11
~ Motor/Physical age: 11

These are just a few examples. There are many possible combinations of asynchronicity and for each child it will look different. These variations can also change within the same child over the years. Again, those with higher IQís will have greater variations in their asynchronous behavior and these behaviors often follow them into college and adulthood.

Asynchronous behavior comes with its own set of challenges. When children are young it can be difficult to understand their behaviors. For instance, a child whose intellectual age is advanced but social age is underdeveloped may have difficulty relating to peers. It will already be difficult for him or her to find children of the same age to interact well with but if there is also a social deficit, the challenge will be even greater. Imagine a child who can discuss world politics one moment and then cry because he canít tie his shoe. Or another who writes detailed poetry that rivals Elizabeth Barrett Browning but argues with her brother over which seat she gets in the car. These discrepancies are not only challenging for parents and teachers to deal with but are also equally frustrating and confusing to the child.

For those who live and work with gifted children it is beneficial to learn more about asynchronous behavior. Through patience and understanding it is possible to aid these children in discerning their own unique behaviors and how to manage them. As gifted children grow they can become more adept at perceiving the variances in their own behaviors and can learn skills which will help them be more successful in social and academic settings.

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