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Asynchrony is common.  Most of us are not able to do everything at an advanced level; however, the discrepancy between strengths and relative weaknesses in high ability individuals is much more accentuated and prevalent than in the general population – especially when these individuals are young. Asynchrony is common among the gifted with some areas developmentally quite advanced and other areas less so.

There are many forms of asynchrony as this term refers to the variation between strengths and relative weaknesses. As Martha Morelock and the Columbus Group of academics and practitioners identified, asynchrony increases with higher intellectual capacity. Gifted individuals can have minds that race so fast that it can be difficult for mouths or fine-motor skills to keep up by speaking or manually writing. Gifted individuals such as physicist and mathematician, Albert Einstein, Prime Minister of England, Winston Churchill and human rights barrister, Geoffrey Robertson, spoke much later than was expected for a small child.

Asynchrony is not as extreme as a disability.  Students who are gifted but concurrently experience a disability are regarded as twice exceptional (i.e., 2e), frequently encountering extreme frustration because of the significant discrepancy between what they can and cannot do. Gifted students with dysgraphia are particularly impacted when delays in writing restrict their written production of work and may need additional supports in this area.

Speaking and writing are just two of the easily identified indicators of asynchrony. Asynchrony – the discrepancy between strengths and relative weaknesses can cause extreme frustration, especially when individuals are growing up. Some things can be done quickly, easily and in some cases, it appears that this achievement occurs effortlessly – though it shouldn't if the individual is to build a positive sense of self and self-efficacy. Students need to 'stretch' if this is to occur.

Asynchrony can occur within or between any cognitive, physical, or emotional area; however, focussing on one's strengths is important developmentally, academically and in choosing one's career.  I don't know anyone who thinks that they can't do something so that is the field they will choose for their career. Everyone does best when there is an emphasis on their strengths.  Although there could be a need to develop skills that will enable a student to achieve their personal goal, focusing on being well-rounded to the exclusion of strengths, can be detrimental to one's development and achievement.

Balls bounce; rockets soar.  By focusing on strengths, a sense of capacity is developed.  Emeritus Professor Roger Moltzen from the University in Waitago in his study of eminent people, identified that these were not particularly well-balanced people. They pursued passions and obsessed about issues; they were asynchronous and focussed on strengths.

© Michele Juratowitch

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Last reviewed 05 May 2023
Last updated 05 May 2023