Autistic Son in Gifted and Talented Program

Updated on July 24, 2013
K.G. asks from Waconia, MN
15 answers

We just moved to a new town in a new state and had our children evaluated at the new school for placement. (I homeschooled last year, so this is a new thing for all of us!) It turns out that my oldest son, who is six (turning seven in November), has tested into the gifted and talented program for second graders!

I am not surprised, but I'm wondering about social things... as in, he has a hard enough time with kids his age! Academically I know it will be really good for him. He loves to be challenged, and he does not get frustrated easily when he learns new things. He loves it! But we are trying to figure out if we should place him in the second grade classroom or if we should keep him in first grade, where he may not be challenged but the kids would be more his age and maybe a bit closer to his social skill level.

My son has autism. He is rather high-functioning, and many adults do not know that he has autism. The kids, though, pick up on it right away, especially relating to his speech. I know that he will be teased and picked on no matter which classroom he is in, but where would it be easier for him?

I really look forward to your thoughts!

What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

Featured Answers



answers from Philadelphia on

Keep him with his peers. He will most likely always think differently than his peers anyway. I dont think you want to add something else that will make him even more different (bigger than other kids, way smarter than other 1st graders etc) By high school he will most likely find his niche (robotics club, set crew etc) so my goal would be to get him there sooner rather than later.

Do you have him in social skills classes?

3 moms found this helpful

More Answers


answers from San Diego on

He needs to be challenged! That is what school is about. I would put him in 2nd grade.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

Absolutely the second grade classroom. School is about learning and being challenged. Besides, it is perfectly fine to be 7 and in second grade. It is the norm in many states. In NYC he would be required to be in second grade the year he turned 7 unless you had a valid reason for holding him back.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Mama, I have a 6 year old Autistic son as well. He tested on the edge of Gifted/Talented in kinder so I'll be in your shoes probably next year. Keep him in his grade. Both my husband and I WERE the bored kid causing trouble (not mean, just BORED). It will probably never be "easy" for him, but being challenged will help him. The gifted/talented group will be his peers. Keeping him with younger kids will cause problems - he's not socially "immature", he's wired different socially. Even with the younger kids, his social skills aren't the "same". I would definitely ask about a social skills group at the school.

You might like a blog I found - - it's a mom blogger of 2 girls, one on the spectrum and one not. It's not a similar situation, but she has lots of information and really interesting insights. I'm seriously considering talking with my son's school "team" re. "coming out" to his class mates about his autism. The reason being we can't have understanding without information. Someone will ALWAYS tease, but kids also are more accepting and defend the underdog if they get WHY there's a difference.

I wish you the best!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

Congrats on your son's placement, and heartfelt congratulations on having a "twice gifted" child.

My recommendation would be to have him in the G&T program but also have him in some kind of social skills group -- some program for autistic kids, so he doesn't feel like he's the only one.

I personally am from the school of thought that holding a child back a year is not a panacea. If you put him with a younger group of kids, their social maturation will still be different, and in a sense more rapid, than his. He'll just stick out more b/c he'll be taller. And the academic work will be less challenging. For a kid who loves to be challenged, that doesn't sound like a fit.

What I would really recommend is sitting down with the teacher, possibly the principal, and any specialists the school has -- and coming up with a proactive plan to help the kids understand that "Johnny" speaks differently than they do, but he's really smart and really good at X, so it's not okay to tease about speaking, ever. Don't assume the teacher and the kids and the school will figure this out on their own -- but you might be surprised about how responsive people can be if you take the initiative.

And, finally, a lot of highly gifted kids are quirky -- maybe not enough for an ASD diagnosis, but enough that your son may feel more at home in a G&T group than you'd expect. That's my son -- years advanced academically, several years behind, in a way, socially. We make it work ;)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Milwaukee on

Congratulations! You have what is called a "twice exceptional" son. It has it's own unique challenges, but I'm sure you already know that :) My 4th grader is in the same situation--high functioning autism with very high intelligence. For us, the Gifted and Talented program has been a wonderful asset. It's one of the few places at school where he really fits in. Because gifted kids tend to be "quirky" and socially challenged anyway, his quirkiness is not as noticed when he's a part of that group. When he is engaged and academically challenged, he's less likely to disrupt the group. And he really enjoys it. These days, children are coming and going from class all day long for different kinds of programs and help from music classes to reading groups to special education or enrichment. It's really quite normal and no one thinks anything of it. I wouldn't be worried about having him pulled out.

As for where to place him, social needs are a concern. I've found, however, that boredom in the classroom leads to even more challenges. Is your son able to participate part-time with his first grade class (where he should be according to age) and part time with the 2nd grade GCT students? Maybe that would be the best solution?

Good luck! Getting everything set up for the best possible school year is always a challenge :)




answers from Kansas City on

No idea really as I don't have personal experience with autism.
BUT I DO have experience with a soon to be middle schooler in a public school.
Since K, I have been nothing short of amazed at the acceptance of and kindness expressed to the autistic kids by ALL of their peers and the great job our school does with educating kids about autism and special needs kids.
So, please, don't be quick to assume he's not going to be accepted. I'll bet he'd do just fine staying with his peer group.
Good luck!



answers from Pittsburgh on

What is the age-cutoff deadline for your school for kids entering kindergarten?

If the age cutoff is December, and there are other 6, soon to be 7 year olds in 2nd grade, then I'd put him in 2nd grade too.

If the age cutoff is usually August, but they are actually suggesting accelerating him to 2nd grade, even though he's the same age their typical 1st graders, then I say put him in 1st.



answers from Cleveland on

hmmmm, I'm leaning towards second, because they may see him more of a pet than a pest, where as the first graders would see the pest part more.

But I only say that if he has the skills to listen to the teacher and function in the group. actually either way he's probably going to get more of what he needs and disrubt the class less in the second grade.

I wouldn't anticipate the teasing but I also would look outside of school for a peer group.



answers from Oklahoma City on

Will he become a behavior problem for his classroom since he'll be bored out of his skull?

Will he learn anything at all by being in the classroom that is for his "age" but not his mental capacity?

I think I'd try it, for at least a while. He needs to be challenged or he is going to find something to do to keep his brain interested in what is going on around him.



answers from Houston on

If he is immature, I would definitely keep him with his age group. I'm sure there will be other high kids in the class and the teacher will need to be sure to challenge them. That is her job.



answers from Madison on

Do you also have him in a Speech program to help with his speaking? That will help him enormously as he gets older, and as he speaks better, the kids won't make fun of him.

I have a daughter who has SPD and is very smart. Not smart enough for the Gifted and Talented Program--and she's bemoaned the fact that she's not in gifted English for years--but she's still very smart. She also had a hard time with social cues and making friends when she was younger (she has figured out the friendship thing and now has a great group of kids she hangs with, as well as she just joined Lacrosse and is making new friends in that circle. Now that she belongs to a club/sport, the kids on her team won't allow her to be by herself; they make sure she is included. And as she is an awesome goalie--everyone wants to be her friend. ;)).

I would lean on the side of keeping him with the kids that he will be interacting with the most. So if he's in classes or would be seen as a 2nd grader--that's where I would put him. You and the school district can give him extra support and a boost in his social skills/help with friend making. If he's with kids with whom he is the same IQ wise, he will blend in better than if he is with the 1st graders but he is way ahead of them in what he is learning and doing. It will be difficult for him to find things to talk about with the first graders if he's doing and learning things that they have no clue what he's talking about. Whereas with the second graders, he'll fit in IQ wise and will just need some extra support to help him fit in friendship/social wise. (In fact, he might find he gets along better with the kids in the 2nd grade class who are the summer babies--those born in June, July, and August--as they will be closer in age to him.)

Good luck!



answers from Detroit on

Would he be able to be in the first grade class, but then taken to the second grade class for certain subjects he is advanced in? I ask because a friend of mine as a son who has tested as "gifted" in reading and math, but has issues with maturity, impulse control, and social skills. He also happens to have a twin brother who is also very smart but closer to "average". They turn 7 in Oct and are going into 1st grade this year - she held them both back a year to give them both more time to grow up a little, and she didn't want 1 twin ahead a grade of the other (cut-off here is Dec but a lot of parents of kids with b-days in Sept, Oct, Nov choose to wait a year). The "gifted" twin is in the same class as his brother most of the time, but is pulled out for reading with the classes that are a grade or two higher, just so he is more challenged. Would something like that be an option?



answers from Minneapolis on

Is there a professional in your new community or at your new school who can advise you? A therapist, special ed teacher or school counselor? My gut reaction is 2nd grade and take advantage of the GT program. I have two boys who have gone through the GT program. The younger one is "quirky" and has some social issues. GT is a place where he feels comfortable and can relate to his peers. It's one of the few places where he is accepted and is NOT teased. If your son is on the spectrum and has social skill involvement that will be an issue in either classroom as you pointed out. I would keep him where he can get the most benefit academically. Good luck!

I just noticed you're in Waconia! I have close ties to that community, although they go back years. I don't know how much current information I can give you, but PM me if you need more information about your new town. Waconia's medical community is very sophisticated and has a good reputation.



answers from New York on

The definition of autistic has certainly changed. Why the label of autism?
If I met him I would maybe say quirky if anything was a bit different. That's. quite a label for a kid that does so well. Keep him with kids his age.

For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions