“I want to know: how do I compare in the world of 12-year-olds? How many people in the world are there with a personality like me? Where do I fit in?”
All children need connections in order to thrive. Learning to establish and maintain friendships is a crucial part of every child’s development. Sharing, turn-taking, trusting, communicating, and compromising are some of the vital skills children practice while interacting with peers. Although for some children acquiring these skills comes naturally and making friends is easy, others struggle to find and keep friends. Twice-exceptional children—because of both components of their exceptionality—often have difficulty finding a peer group and maintaining friendships.
Twice-exceptional children are children who are identified as being gifted while also having a disability. While “disability” is not the ideal word, it is the word used by schools and other agencies and, for sake of consistency, will be used here. The disability could be a learning, emotional, physical, sensory, and/or developmental disability (The Twice-Exceptional Dilemma, 2006). Dyslexia, ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorder, and Generalized Anxiety Disorder are just some examples of disabilities that impact a child’s functioning.
Continue reading Twice-Exceptional Children: Why Making Friends Is Hard and How to Support Them
“I know my son wants to make friends, but when he plays with others, the kids complain that he is being bossy.”
“My daughter came home from school and told me that she has no one to play with during recess.”
“I think my middle-schooler doesn’t know how to begin a conversation. He’ll say ‘Hello’ to his peers and then look down at his shoes.”
These children, along with many others, likely have trouble navigating social interactions. They may have difficulty understanding other people’s point of view and recognizing how their behaviors impact the way others feel about them. Although some of these children have specific disabilities, such as autism spectrum disorder, many typically developing children also struggle with mastering age-appropriate social skills.
We used to think that social ability was a fixed trait, and that some people were naturally better at navigating social interactions than others. Thanks to the pioneering work by Michelle Garcia Winner and her colleagues, we now know that social skills can be learned with guidance and repeated practice. The process called Social Thinking (1) helps people realize that during their interactions they have the power to affect the thoughts and feelings of others. In this article, we will explore the concept of Social Thinking further.
Continue reading Social Thinking: Helping Children Navigate Social Interactions
The term “gifted” can be misleading. Some people may think that since gifted children possess the special “gift” of high intelligence, they do not need any extra help and will succeed no matter what. This line of thinking does these children a disservice. While it is true that many gifted children do very well both academically and socially, it is important to remember that giftedness can bring with it its own set of social-emotional challenges that require understanding and ongoing support from adults. In this article, I discuss the challenges in navigating peer relationships that some gifted children face. I also explore possible ways to address these challenges. Continue reading Gifted Children: Navigating Peer Relationships