I keep trying to start this post, but this is a very difficult subject around our house. I am convinced that asynchrony is the root cause of most of the struggles we have with the kidlet. He's fairly on-par with himself in most academic areas (except handwriting), but it seems to me that all of his growth energy has gone into his intellect, leaving none for his physical, emotional, spiritual, or social growth. I don't know if child development scientists would support my thesis - but that's how it seems.
When the kidlet was in preschool, his teacher recommended not starting kindergarten "on time" because he was so immature. We struggled with that decision - we knew he was advanced academically (he could count to 7 when he was 15 months old, and knew all of his letters by 18 months, and was already reading), but we also recognized that he was extremely "spirited" and reluctant to follow directions or get involved in what the other kids were doing. Circle time was a N.I.G.H.T.M.A.R.E. (this goes back even to the days he was a baby - we sat in Kindermusic in a circle and all the other little babies were happily sitting with their moms, clapping and cooing, while the kidlet would struggle to get away, grabbing toys and anything he could get his hands on). Eventually, we decided that we needed to support his more advanced intellectual needs, figuring the rest was more about his character than about actual maturity. He went to kindergarten.
Ha! It's a good thing we didn't wait for his emotional side to catch up to his intellectual side or he'd be the oldest (and smartest) kindergartener in the country. He's still not there. Just yesterday I was *ahem, excuse me - bad mommy moment ahead* lecturing him about how he should act like an 11 year old instead of a 3 year old. Yes - he has more frequent temper tantrums now than he did when he was 3. I thought I had it made back then - after the first few times he threw a tempter tantrum, he figured out that it didn't work with me, so he stopped. But his little immature and intense emotional life needs expression, and for some reason he's just not able to identify the emotions and catch himself before he spirals out of control - even though he (intellectually) knows he needs to and he says he really tries.
Some say it's ADHD rearing its ugly head. I might agree, except that I see none of the other signs of ADHD, and we have tried medication which does not help. Some say it's Asperger's or Autism - again, I don't agree because you can't make a diagnosis based on one existing symptom. That's why I say that asynchrony is the culprit. You see, it's got to be so frustrating to think like an adult, easily socialize with other 11 year old boys (who have very little in common, but they are someone to play Legos and Pokemon with), but be unable to understand your emotions or express them to another beyond what a 5 year old can do. Throw into the mix the extreme perfectionism (I know what I should do and I can't do it, but I don't want everyone else to see me fail), and you have a recipe for the kind of spiraling that sends him into internal chaos that wreaks external havoc.
It's tough as a parent to know how to help. Especially since he doesn't have the huge meltdowns at home, so we can't even walk him through the process in real time. We're stuck with trying to talk things through after-the-fact, when he's calmed down and can think clearly. It breaks my heart to know how hard he tries, but there is something there that is blocking his ability to think it through at the moment of highest frustration. We were even discussing ways to intentionally frustrate him at home - to make him lose it so we can help him through the process (that sounds really horrible - but we are really at our wits ends to know how to help him).
The good news is this: we see him exercise great control most of the time at home, and all of the time at martial arts. So we know it's there and is getting better. But I guess it's like the physical growth - you can feed him healthy food, but you can't make him grow. I'm hoping that with our new school plan, his intellectual needs will get sufficiently met that the rest of him - the social, emotional, spiritual, and physical maturity - can get some growth time in.