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Asperger's, Gifted, or Both?

Updated on January 23, 2012

characteristics shared by gifted and Asperger's children

Is your child gifted? Does your gifted child also happen to struggle socially? This doesn't mean necessarily that your child has Aspergers, nor are all Asperger children gifted, however the defined characteristics of Aspergers and what to look for in a gifted child are strikingly similar.

I started out to write an article about how to tell if your child is gifted, as my 9 year old who is a straight A student has been complaining that school is too easy for her. My husband I and have been wrestling over rather or not to have her tested for ELP(the gifted program at our daughter's school), so I was researching traits of a gifted child when I discovered that some of them are the very same traits listed for symptoms of an Asperger's child. I am all too familiar with this subject as one of my 6 year olds (I have twins)has diagnosed with Aspergers or autism of the high functioning variety. My 9 year old, though not diagnosed as of yet, also shows some signs of being AS, though not to the degree of my 6 year old.

If you line up the traits side by side, you will be amazed at how many there are in common. Let's take a look at them now:

Traits commonly shared by gifted children:

  • High vocabulary for age
  • may struggle socially
  • may learn to read at an early age
  • reading books above grade level
  • love for science and math
  • advanced memory
  • extremely curious
  • ultra focused on certain interests
  • hypersensitivity or sensory disorder

Some of the Symptoms of Asperger's Syndrome

  • Social awkwardness
  • unusually high vocabulary
  • hyper-focused on one or more particular interests
  • may excel at math or science
  • sensory disorder or hypersensitivity

Let's break these down a little, starting with the sensitivity or sensory disorder depending on how you look at it. Polish phsychologist Kazimierz Dabrowski states that there are 5 of these "overexcitabilities" or "supersensitivities" as he defines them present in gifted children: sensual, emotional, psychomotor, intellectual, and imaginational. If your child is bothered by the seams on clothing or will refuse to wear certain types of fabric than you know what is meant by the sensual part of this equation. Another example of this is a heightened sensitivity to taste, thereby refusing to eat certain foods or textures of food. Loud noises are also a problem for these children(my daughter hides under a table or chair if she is on sensory overload) as is anything that affects the five senses: touch, taste, smell, hearing, and sight.

The psychomotor is similar to ADHD like symptoms, restlessness, rapid speech,impulsive behavior, physical expressions of emotions, etc. They kiddos commonly get misdiagnosed with ADHD and my be medicated unnecessarily.

The emotional side to this is described as anxiety, extremes of emotion, problems adjusting to change, just to name a few. Keep in mind Dr Dabrowski is discussing traits of gifted children here, not Aspergers. Doesn't this sound familiar for those of you that have children with Asperger's?

The intellectual is characterized by a deep curiosity, love of learning and knowledge, avid reading, asking of probing questions, etc. Again, for those of you with Asperger children, this will likely bring about some recognition here.

Lastly, we have the imaginational, which I know doesn't match up to the clinical description of Aspergers as this is said to be lacking in most Asperger children, however, my daughter doesn't quite fit that mold and your child might not either. The imaginational is described as the following: vivid dreams, fear of the unknown, daydreams, imaginary friends, and detailed visualization..

This is by no mean an exhaustive list and the list of symptoms for Asperger's goes far beyond what I have listed here, but I wanted to make a point of bringing up the similarities between Asperger's and some of the traits that a gifted child may have. I will not go so far as to imply that all Asperger children are gifted and certainly not all gifted children have Asperger's, but I believe they share enough common traits to warrant further research on this subject.

Asperger children often feel left out of the group.
Asperger children often feel left out of the group.


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    • bizymomof3 profile image

      Joann Marotta Nellis 5 years ago from New York City

      As a parent of an aspergers child and a gifted child I truly enjoyed your hub. It was very informative.

    • asherruth profile image

      asherruth 5 years ago

      Hi Perry, glad you enjoyed the hub. It is good that you and your family are social. Aspergers is hard for anyone to deal with. Yes, I truly see the need to get them to socialize. It is vital.

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

    • Perry the Cat profile image

      Perry the Cat 5 years ago from Mouskin, Texas

      Wow, I wish they had this list when I was a kid. A gifted program would have kept me out of trouble. I raised a gifted child and my grandson who lives with me also meets that criteria. However none of us have symptoms of Aspergers. We are annoyingly social. I have met some adults with Asperger's, though. They tell me it is vitally important the their parents push them into social interaction. Great hub, very interesting.

    • asherruth profile image

      asherruth 5 years ago

      Hi Pamela,

      I'm so glad you got your son into the gifted program. Bright kifs need to be challenged or they will quit trying.

      Thanks so much for reading and commenting. Also for sharing.

      I look forward to reading more of your hubs!

    • Pamela Kinnaird W profile image

      Pamela Kinnaird W 5 years ago from Maui and Arizona

      This kind of comparison is very interesting. Our son was tested and invited into the gifted program. There is someone else in our extended family who I am sure is to some degree in the Asperger's range, but does very well on his own. Our son doesn't have the Asperger's traits, but sure was bored at school until he could get into a program that challenged his interests and creative thinking. Thanks for a great hub.

    • asherruth profile image

      asherruth 5 years ago

      Thanks viking305! Aspergers is very common, but it sometimes seems like a double edged sword as while it cripples socially, it seems to give a boost mentally and intellectually. Thank you so much for reading, commenting on, voting, and sharing my article. You are very much appreciated!

    • viking305 profile image

      L M Reid 5 years ago from Ireland

      Very interesting article about Aspergers Syndrome and gifted children. Members of my family have AS too so found a lot of the traits very familiar

      Thanks for SHARING. Up and interesting

    • asherruth profile image

      asherruth 5 years ago

      Thanks Debbie! Yes, the so called "professionals" can't seem to make up their minds on this one. Maybe they will realize that there are super abilities as well as disabilities in these high functioning or Asperger's children. I'll bet your son is probably extremely bright even if sometimes the Asperger's tries to mask the brilliance as is the case with my daughter.

      Thanks again for reading and commenting.

    • debbie roberts profile image

      Debbie Roberts 5 years ago from Greece

      I found this hub interesting because my son also has either high functioning autism or Aspergers, doctors and therapists can't seem to agree. Maybe I should suggest to them that maybe he's just gifted. Now that would really confuse them!!

      Definitely an interesting hub, thank you for sharing.

    • asherruth profile image

      asherruth 5 years ago

      Thanks Donna, this is a subject I love to research and write about as it affects every day of my life. As I do more research on Asperger's I hope to write more hubs about it. Thank you very much for taking the time to read my article and comment!

    • Donna Huebsch profile image

      Donna Fairley Huebsch 5 years ago from Clearwater, Florida

      Enjoyed reading your hub - interesting to see the comparison!

    • asherruth profile image

      asherruth 5 years ago

      Thank you Peggy. It is a very involved topic, so I only touched the surface with this one, but it is a subject that I am plan on pursuing further when I have the time.

      Thank you again for reading my hub and taking the time to respond.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Very interesting comparison between gifted children and those who are diagnosed with Aspergers. Hopefully more research will be done to differentiate between the two and help parents get the best help for their children. Voted up, useful and interesting.