how do you explain?
I wouldn't explain. I don't know the relationship to you of the people making these comments, but I think it's fine to say something like "Thank you for your concern, we've got it." Repeat. Not everyone who might be interested needs to a) know the details, or b) have a say in things.
Having said that, if these are people who know something about autism and have spent time with your kid, it might be worth a greater investigation than a conversation with a pediatrician, who in most places can't dx autism. Whatever might explain your child's struggles, if he is struggling with anxiety and emotional regulation, accessing resources could be a good thing.
Was this a medical professional? Friend? Other family member? That is not a diagnosis that can be made just "off the cuff".
If YOU are concerned, I would go to see a specialist, and wouldn't wait. There are also other disorders or issues (SPD, anxiety, auditory processing) that can appear like autism to people who really don't have a clue.
I'm not sure there's any such thing. I have four gifted kids. Two are highly introverted and had some social anxiety though they were never at all socially immature, and two have had absolutely no social difficulties. I think that as much as gifted kids are different from non-gifted kids, they're at least as different from each other. Gifted children are just as likely, or perhaps more likely, than non-gifted kids to have co-existent disabilities. Of course I'm not sure where the unofficial labelling that put him on the autism spectrum came from, but on the assumption that it was from someone with more experience than you with neurotypical and autistic kids ... well, if you have a gut feeling yourself that something's a little 'off,' I would not rationalize that feeling away by reading around about quirky gifted kids until you convince yourself that you don't need to be concerned.
Having said that I think that if your gut (not your rationalizations, but your gut) it telling you that specific interventions are not the right course for your ds right now, it's fine to follow your instincts. Thank people for their concern, tell them that you are not doing anything official for now because you're seeing considerably growth and maturity take root without those interventions, and that you will continue to monitor the situation and keep an open mind about other options. Then pointedly change the subject. If they harp back on their concerns, be firm: "Thank you for your concern. We're comfortable with the path we're on for the time being." Repeat ad lib. "Thank you for your concern. So, have you seen the new Hobbit movie yet?" Create boundaries: don't try to persuade.
It's just that with the holidays he got out of his routine and acted out his frustrations in front of family and now they don't think i am doing the right thing by waiting. It gets on my nerves and i want everyone to thnk i am the perfect parent. i guess i need to let go of that.
First, I highly recommend you let go of that crap. Part of being a mom is having people think you are doing the wrong thing, sometimes it will be your kid who thinks you are doing the wrong thing! Finding your own center and resting there is the quest. If you aren't going to feel OK until EVERYONE thinks you are perfect, you will never get to feel OK.
BTW, none of us are the perfect parent. So I think that part of finding our center is accepting that perfection isn't a realistic goal.
Back to your child, I have a daughter who is both gifted and on the autism spectrum, and I think that there is a thin gray line between "gifted and quirky" and "on the spectrum but also gifted." I think that line is drawn by how well a person is able to cope with society's expectations for a person their age, which mean some people look like they are on one side at some stages of their life, and look like they are on the other at other times.
I'm going to go through some of your points:
- He is more emotional and anxious than others. He needs help with this, whatever the cause.
- and a little imature. Not a sign of giftedness, but can be a sign of all sorts of other things.
- However, he is very social with peers and adults. Mostly likely not on the spectrum if he is APPROPRIATELY social with PEERS. However, there are all sorts of other things that could be at play, such as sensory issues, NVLD, etc. Deciding he doesn't have autism and therefore doesn't have anything might keep you from really figuring him out, which could cause him to suffer unnecessarily.
- and taught himself to read over a year ago. He now reads on a third grade level. Does he understand what he reads? Really understand it? If not, this isn't a good thing.
- wait to have him evaluated until we needed help with the behavior. Have you checked into how long it will take to get an eval? In some cities, the wait is a year due to an imbalance between demand and qualified practitioners. Based on my experience, waiting until the sh*t hits the fan to start the process MAY be a mistake, depending on the situation in your city. Getting a complete neuro-psychological exam isn't like an eye check or a hearing check that you call and your kid is in the next week. Before you decide to just wait, at least figure out who in your city does these exams and find out what their current wait is like.
- We aren't really there yet. For now what we are.doing at home works for the most part. What are you doing at home? Is he involved in any programs outside of home (preschool, swim lessons, whatever)? How does that go?
I also agree with Miranda that there is no such thing as a typical gifted kid.
Seconding this. I was a very "gifted" reader. I now don't read books. At all. I'm almost positive I got into a nasty skimming habit that made it so I miss about half the content, making it hard to enjoy books. It's not an easy habit to break. I know another "gifted reader" who had the same experience, her family has the tradition of reading books aloud and while she was visiting and her dad was reading Lord of the Rings, she realized that she missed most of it when she had read it. Part of it is because "gifted readers" often get praised for how quickly we read, so people unintentionally encourage us to rush and can even discourage us to take our time ("You're still reading that? I thought you'd be done by now, you're usually such a fast reader..."). There are also contests about who can read the most books in a space and, at least when I was young, Book It! gave you a reward every time you finished X books, again encouraging fast reading not quality reading. It stops being about reading comprehension or reading enjoyment, and starts being about how "fast" we can read.
I would definitely make sure that his reading comprehension is also at a 3rd grade level, and continue doing check-ups periodically until he leaves home to make sure he doesn't get into bad habits. Either way, it's not a bad idea to make reading a group activity at least part of the time. Make sure to continue reading to him, and also have him read aloud to you and ask him questions about what's going on to make sure he's engaging with it.
No there is no one "typical" gifted kid, but there is a pattern that appears to crop up fairly frequently (like in our house, so of course, I'm biased): anxiety, high sensitivty, emotional intensity, sensory processing issues, self-regulation and impulse control problems, appearing immature. And more autistic-looking stuff: tics, repetitive behaviour, obsessive interests, delays in age-appropriate play...at one time, just after DD was born, we began to get very worried about DS1, and when his preschool teachers started getting worried too, we sighed and asked to see a specialist.
A supposedly experienced child psychiatrist was sure that our DS1, then 4, had Aspergers - until they did the whole formal evaluation and he was way off the cutoffs in all the criteria but one (the tics I think) and after that, they just didn't know what to do. Years later, it's so clear he's not autistic, and at the same time clear that there are autistic looking traits that get in his way and we try to help him with that.
I think Linda had a great way to put it - sometimes the boundaries shift according to what your child needs to cope with at a particular time in life. Preschool was hard, K was better, second grade works fine. When we realized what we did was good enough for DS1 to function in school, that was good enough for us - but of course we had the negative formal eval under our belts.
Like others have said, without knowing who made the "diagnosis" and in what context and which family memebr picked up on it and why they feel it's their call to hassle you, it's hard to say whether it's likely you're in denial or rather that you need to establish firmer boundaries. So, possibly act on both suggestions: get that eval lined up AND get the relations off your back by firmly telling them you're on top of it.