Asynchronous Development

toddler reaching up to a table to play on a laptop

Is Your Child Showing Signs of
Asynchronous Development?

When a child is very advanced in some areas but their development is only typical of their age in others, it may lead to frustration or behavioural issues. This disparity between ability and developmental levels is known as asynchronous development.

All children with high learning potential have areas that develop at exaggeratedly different rates from neurotypical children. Their cognitive abilities and/or achievements are far ahead of their chronological age, yet their physical development is likely typical for their age. This asynchrony is one of the things that is common to all high learning potential children and is the cause of misunderstanding, frustration and some behavioural issues.

The main reason for high learning potential children’s social and emotional vulnerability is asynchronous development, whereby intellectual development is out of sync with social, emotional and/or physical development.

A high learning potential child who is developing asynchronously is at times capable of mature reasoning and can astound an adult with the depth of their conversation, yet at other times will throw a tantrum over a seemingly trivial issue and behave like a much younger child!

Children who have a special educational need or disability as well as advanced cognitive skills (dual or multiple exceptional, or DME, children) are likely to have some areas of development that are lagging behind their chronological age, so the gaps between areas of development are even wider, leading to even greater misunderstanding and frustration.

Girl in headphones looking at an ipad

Asynchronous Development Advice Sheet

Children with asychronous development often struggle with intellectual development which is out of sync with social, emotional and/or physical development. Understanding these differences and the effects that they can have on the development of children with high learning potential is key to supporting them.

More information is available in our advice sheet PA514 Asynchronous Development

young girl with hands over face

Family Story – Lily-Mae

Lily-Mae is 4 ½. Her reading age is 9, her favourite shape is a dodecagon and she thinks the periodic table is cool. However, she struggles with her fine motor skills and is having difficulty learning to write, which is leading to frustration, anger and behavioural difficulties at school.

Read More »

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Characteristics Common to Children with High Learning Potential

Many parents start their journey of high learning potential by observing their child’s characteristics. While different children will show different traits, there are “typical” characteristics that a child of high learning potential may display, of which asynchronous development is just one.

Discover more about these traits in Characteristics of Children with High Learning Potential »

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