I was hoping I could hear people's thoughts on my situation. My ds will be 4 years old next month and is an only child. He is in his first year of preschool and is the second oldest in his class. The teacher and director of the preschool talked to me today. They feel my son is gifted (no testing, yet), but think he may need a psych evaluation. The teacher feels like my ds "has an on/off switch". He can be really sweet, helpful, and compassionate, but then, all of a sudden, put paint on another child's face or scratch a teacher without any provocation. The teacher feels like he has to shadow him because if he is not occupied or stimulated he could end up doing something destructive. They are concerned about this.
They are also concerned with his gross motor skills. He has always been a little slow with his gross motor skill development and social devl, meeting the milestones at the slower end. His cog and fine motor skills have always been way ahead. He knew the whole alphabet by 20 months, did 100-piece kid's puzzles by himself by 3 years old, etc.
He has never liked loud noises or big groups. These are the only sensory issues I have ever noticed. He is definitely shy, but both my husband and I were, too. The teacher seems to feel that when ds is in a big group or is doing outside play the more destructive behavior comes out. He is just beginning to do more interactive play and is not yet good at initiating play. The teacher tells me he sometimes sits away from the other kids and just watches them play.
When we have one-on-one playdates outside of school he does do some interactive play. Sometimes I see his impulsive behavior at home if I leave him alone for too long, but I am usually interacting with him a lot.
I guess I am wondering if this sounds like a gifted and sensitive child or if it sounds like something else? Clearly there is some impulsive behavior. Why does he have this "on/off switch"? Any ideas?
Thanks in advance for your help!
The teacher and director of the preschool talked to me today. They feel my son is gifted (no testing, yet), but think he may need a psych evaluation. The teacher feels like my ds "has an on/off switch". He can be really sweet, helpful, and compassionate, but then, all of a sudden, put paint on another child's face or scratch a teacher without any provocation. The teacher feels like he has to shadow him because if he is not occupied or stimulated he could end up doing something destructive. They are concerned about this.
They are also concerned with his gross motor skills. He has always been a little slow with his gross motor skill development and social devl, meeting the mile
I guess I am wondering if this sounds like a gifted and sensitive child or if it sounds like something else?
Giftedness doesn't not explain violent behavior.
Sensory issues can play out in odd ways, and it's possible that he's violent outburst are linked to sensory overload that he can't handle. Some kids shut down, other act violently. It's also possible that its caused by something else entirely.
I have a child who is both gifted and has special needs. One does not rule out the other. At the very least, I think you should be taking your son's behavior extremely seriously and modify your parenting in attempt to teach him basic social skills.
Either he will move past this behavior, you'll get an evaluation and find out what is going on, or he'll just be treated as a discipline problem. Those are the only options. Full neuro psycho evals in some cities take a year. I wouldn't wait for this to go away before taking action.
I really would not want my child with sensory issues to be treated as a discipline problem. To me, it is so much more positive to figure out what the triggers are then modify their life so they don't end up feeling like a caged animal. Because with my DD, she really cannot help it, and no amount of discipline would change that.
I'd get the eval and find out what is going on. I'd take the recommendation of the school seriously.
The only way to get an answer about his on/off switch is for him to spend real time with an expert. No one on this board can answer it. Most of us aren't qualified, and even if some one here was qualified, they couldn't answer the question *for your son* without evaluating him.
but everything has pros and cons
If you think that your son is gifted, I would try and make sure that the psychologist or psychiatrist is aware of that and familiar with gifted kids. People who are not in the education system are not well schooled in the nature of gifted children, which can present as other problems if the underlying cause for the behavior is not well understood. One of the most obvious examples is a bored gifted kid being diagnosed as ADHD because they don't pay attention. That is not to say that gifted kids never have ADHD, of course, just that there may be some things about being gifted or highly intelligent that needs to be considered.
That said, I'd definately go for the eval. Unprovoked and explosive behavior, especially if it is out of character, is a big red flag to me.
I'm in the "something else" camp. He may be gifted and that may be exacerbating any underlying problems but the impulsive and aggressive behavior itself can't be explained away by giftedness alone.
I'd do the eval. At the very least, some occupational therapy for the gross motors and the sensory issues. You may find he has far more sensitivities than you have considered and thus have more triggers. OT can also give you practical advice on how to manage these sensitivities.
It's hard to truly say without observing him but I taught preschool for several years and what you describe would be a reason for concern to me too.
I think an evaluation is in order. Any time there are difficulties with violence, it's safer to get some experts on board to help figure things out. While waiting for the evaluation, I'd also get some parenting counseling and make sure the preschool is an OK fit. I have one 2E son (and a "just gifted" daughter). There were a lot of situations at around 4 years old that were more than he could handle on a sensory and social level. He needed smaller groups and a structured setting, and we were a while finding a right fit.
Busy keeping up with three children and an awful lot of chickens!
Impulsivity can be a gifted issue. Doesn't have to be of course.
I agree with the PPs who think it could be sensory overload, due to SPD or something else.
Our DS showed some similar red flags, including socio-emotional and gross-motor development lagging behind cognitive development, impulsivity and aggressive outbursts last year, and we had an eval done - for ADHD, we suggested going in, for ASD, the psych suggested a short time into our consultation. We were shocked, but the eval turned out - nothing. maybe autistic traits, they mumbled. Clearly very talented cognitively, gross motor and socio emotional skills low average, but not delayed. possibly a few sensory issues, might see an OT a few times. Isn't playing well, either under- or overemotional...maybe some counseling for the parents? Maybe come back next year? I was nice to know that they could not diagnose an ASD, and get a few very helpful pointers for specific situations, and it was good to be able to tell the preschool teachers that the eval had not turned up anything, but as to what was going on? We still don't know.
Our working hypothesis for right now: DS is likely gifted, with some sensory issues, very anxious, did not handle the new baby in the family very well, was overwhelmed by the large preschool classroom that year (27 kids in a 3-6 classroom because of flight from the neighboring Montessori preschool whose directress has issues, so it was kinda an emergency situation and I couldn't really complain), lack of cognitive challenge and structured activities as opposed to too much social challenge and free play.
This year, the classroom is smaller, he fits in better with the group, enjoys the K pullouts, looks forward to elementary school (1st grade), plays well with his little sister. he is still impulsive, but outbursts are confined to home/family situations when he is tired or hungry. maturity, a better fit, mom sleeping better? Probably all of the above. By all means have an eval done, but it can be nothing psychs can do about, and can be all about his personality/needs not being a good fit for his current classroom or life situation.
And at the danger of sounding like a broken record: check out the blood sugar connection. Reactive hypoglycemia is far more common in gifted kids. make sure he gets high protein breakfasts and regular high protein snacks. Might help a LOT.
Edited to say I should have put: his current classroom or life situation not being a good fit for his personality/needs. Kinda sounds like you ought to modify your child as opposed to modify his classroom situation, which is of course not what I meant...
I have also been taking to heart the advice of making sure the school is a good fit. Although I do think there may be too much unstructured play, I really believe the teacher is putting in a lot of extra effort to help out my ds. The teacher told me that since our last discussion my son has already had less incidents and more interactive play (!!).
We are starting a high protein breakfast for ds tomorrow. THANKS!