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Bright, Gifted or Asperger's

By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D

Q: I'm actually the child, not the parent. I know that I'm different than other kids, but I can't seem to find out how on the internet.

I am very disorganized, but I like things that way. I have an excellent memory and can retain and comprehend things well. I can remember and recall things I have learned years ago almost perfectly, and my science teacher really believes I have a photographic memory, (technically eidetic) which I know I don't. He only believes this because I don't take notes in his class. He shows slideshows, and I remember the information by discussing in class and hearing the information spoken aloud. I never study or do homework, and always get very high grades, usually nothing below an A minus. I also am very good with music, and can play any song by ear on the flute, and on the piano. I can also memorize songs on the flute, and can play a song a couple times and have the whole thing memorized. The school had me in a special program in early grade-school, and now I am in accelerated courses in junior high. But I don't think it's normal.

My friends joke and say that I am 'OCD' because of my behavior sometimes. I don't like it when a routine is broken, even though I know it is irrational to be upset. For instance, my school always serves pizza on Fridays. Once, they served it on a Wednesday, which wasn't usual, and I couldn't eat the lunch that day. Of course, my friends thought it was no big deal and joked about it, and I shrugged it off. But just now, my family and I went out to dinner, (a family of four) and my mother wanted to sit at a table for five. It bugged me, and I didn't want to sit down. Things like this happen to me a lot. Like how I am a bit of a germaphobe.

I have a very difficult time understanding jokes, and I usually can't make jokes either. When people are sarcastic, I don't understand. And when I am sarcastic, people can't tell if I am serious or not.

I also usually don't express too many emotions, and can seem apathetic at times. But that is only because I choose to, and I can show emotions if I want to.

It sounds slightly like autism to me, (like Asperger's) but I'm not very socially awkward. I am a little, but nothing extreme.

So, I want to know if I am just bright, or 'gifted', or if I am something else, like Autism.

I hope it's ok that I posted this even though I am a child, and not a parent. Thank you for reading my question, and I hope it can be answered.

A: It is perfectly fine for anyone to post any query they may have on giftedness - child or parent! And I am glad that you did. We are all different in our own ways, just that some difference is seen further from the norms and others are more easily acceptable. There is nothing wrong being different - as long as it does not disrupt your life and the lives of significant others. For gifted individuals, it is more the intensity of their emotions rather than negative emotions.

You did not mention your age, an important factor as when one grows older, some concerns can automatically reduce in intensity. From your description, I believe that you may be gifted, that too on the higher range. Have you taken an intelligence test? That may help determine your gifts and perhaps giving you an insight of what you can do with them to maximize your potential.

There is a tendency for gifted children to be either extremely organised about things or totally disorganised. So you are fine there. The only thing that perhaps may need to be looked into is your obsession. What you have described is not normal and may in time affect your life. It is not uncommon for parents of children who have obsessions worry that their child might have OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder) or some form of Autism. Obsessions in OCD are unwanted, anxiety producing thoughts. Unless you see a professional, it is not possible to make any diagnosis here. There may be some tests and interviews required to be able to make a diagnosis. Please do this as soon as you can.

I personally believe that you are gifted with a possible disorder that has not been diagnosed for a long time and can be improved with some intervention. Gifted individuals come in many types - it is very possible for someone to be gifted with a learning disability, or psychological disorder. It may not have been diagnosed earlier as gifted children are good at masking their disabilities as they are with their abilities when there is pressure. So, it is possible for a misdiagnosis. Therefore, I would suggest that you see a professional in your area (perhaps a psychologist or a psychiatrist) to help you understand your behaviour better.

You may also want to read the following articles:

  • Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted

  • If You're So Smart, Why Do You Need Counseling?

Wishing you all the best!


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