Monthly Archives: July 2011

Finding Their Tribe: The Importance of Intellectual Peers

Attending a national gathering of profoundly gifted children, we are reminded how critical it is that children this asynchronous be given the opportunity to be with their intellectual peers. Given their asynchrony, this doesn’t necessarily mean their age-mates, even in a gathering like this; but knowing, by experiencing directly, that there are children in the world who are “like them,” is revelatory for kids this unique.

Profoundly asynchronous children at this end of the spectrum move through the stages of friendship development at a faster rate than more typical age-mates. For such a child of six, this may mean seeking friendships that typical children don’t seek until age 11 or 12 — the “sure shelter” of a friend who will accept you for who you are, no matter the circumstances, while most other six-year-olds are seeking a play-partner or person to chat with. Add to this mismatched level of expectations the feeling of differentness and that asynchronous children feel from a young age, and you have a recipe for isolation, alienation, and even depression.

Tending the social and emotional wellbeing of kids like this is critical, and the most amazing transformations happen when kids find their tribe. This can happen in more limited settings, like discovering the one-in-a-million kid who also happens to go to your new school in a big city. But for some children, especially those in more rural settings, it can take traveling across country to participate in a program like the Davidson Young Scholars’ program, PG Retreat, some of the national talent searches, or competitions like the Intel Science Talent Search to fell like they’ve finally found other kids “like them.”

We’d love to hear your stories of how your unique kids found their tribe. Let us know!