Autism typically appears during the first three years of life. Its symptoms and characteristics can vary from mild to severe. According to the Autism Society of America, children with autism typically have difficulties in verbal and non-verbal communication, social interactions, and leisure or play activities. For more information on autism, go online to the Autism Society of America website.
What was the criteria for calling your son gifted? Was it the result of an IQ score, or because he is far ahead of other children his age in specific areas of academic performance? Most gifted children learn to read easily, often before entering school, which your son accomplished. To learn more about giftedness, visit the National Association for Gifted Children website and the ERIC Clearinghouse on Disabilities and Gifted Education.
Many people don't realize that there are gifted students who have disabilities. In fact, this is a whole new area in the educational field. Educators are now trying to identify gifted students with specific disabilities and improve the interdisciplinary cooperation between the gifted and special education departments. Fortunately, gifted students with disabilities are not that common; however, they are two percent of the school population.
Your son may require more extensive services from the school in order to develop to his full potential. It is absolutely essential that you request in writing that the school evaluate him for learning disabilities. As the school will not be able to initiate the testing process until next year, you may wish to talk to your child's pediatrician now about the validity of the labels the school is assigning to your son.