Monthly Archives: November 2011

Helping the High-Potential Child

You may have noticed our tagline. Helping the High-Potential Child is simple, but powerful. Children who are extremely asynchronous have extreme needs, but the “gifted” label blinds others to that need. These children are intense, all the time, and their needs are equally intense.

To compound matters, the way giftedness manifests itself — the way it “looks” to teachers, parents, and others — can be very different from what most people imagine. They expect global giftedness, brilliance, even genius. When they see a supposed gifted child “zoning” in class, or taking a long time to answer a math problem, they think, “How could this child possibly be gifted?”

But extremely asynchronous children — children who are many ages at once, with a wide gap between their intellectual age (very high) and their age in years (very low) — often have so much going on in their brains at one time that speed of response drops far below what people expect.

Let’s take the example of a typical early elementary school math problem: a chalkboard drawing of two groups of two orange circles. The teacher asks the class, “We have two oranges here, and here are two other oranges. How many total oranges do we have?” A typical child may ponder briefly, but see that there are four, and raise his or her hand to respond.

But an asynchronous child may be thinking something like this: Why isn’t the teacher using actual oranges? Those circles don’t look much like oranges. And why oranges, not bananas? Or candy? Better yet, why not draw the numbers? If she drew the numbers under the oranges it would help my friend Bobby figure out the numbers faster, because he doesn’t just “see” them like I do. I wish she was doing multiplication instead of addition. Then we could look at the symmetry between 2+2=4 and 2×2=4. I love that. Or better yet, she could do 2 + x = 4 and subtract 2 from both sides to show them that the unknown variable is 2. She could just act that out with the oranges, even, and use a box to cover the two. Then she’d need eight total oranges, but I bet it would be better. Why is the teacher looking at me like that? Why is the class looking at me? Oh, right, she asked me the answer.

And only then does the asynchronous child pop out with the answer: “Two!” — if the teacher hasn’t already moved on.

We aim to help identify these children, point them to existing resources, and provide aid to those who can’t afford to access those resources on their own. These children have high potential. We want to help them have the same chance any child has to thrive.