Highly intelligent, highly sensitive, socially withdrawn child: is there a term for this?
In my volunteer work, I've encountered an unusual child (hell, they're all unusual, but I can't wrap my head around this one). Lets call him J. He's eleven years old. I was wondering if you have encountered or heard of a similar pattern of behavior.
Most of the day, J sits by himself reading, with a book very close to his face and ignores the other children. Sometimes he paces back and forth while staring at the ground. On more than one occasion, he was standing looking at the ground when I entered the room, and when I said hello, he screamed and began pacing back and forth.
One time, he entered the room I was in, holding a pencil and notebook. I was at a desk drawing and asked him if he'd like to join me. In a sad tone of voice, he said he wouldn't know what to draw. I said I could give him an assignment - to draw his dream house. He said he wasn't interested, but still stood near me. I suggested drawing the animal that could beat any other animal in a fight. He smiled a little and said that that is a little bit like what he draws, and showed me some incredible drawings he'd done of soldiers in elaborate suits of armor.
He also told me that he likes to create codes and new languages, but has nobody to share them with. He sounded so incredibly sad.
J had previously attended a school for students with developmental disabilities, but his parent's haven't shared his medical or educational history with the staff of the program I work with. Staff members tell me that J has come a long way, that for the first few months at the program, J rocked back and forth in the corner, and would not speak to any of the students or staff.
From a distance, J's behavior resembles behaviors associated with autism spectrum disorders, but he seems to be very sad, and aware of social cues - possibly hyper aware. His behavior seems to resemble the phenotype described in this thread on "opposite autism".
I've never encountered this behavior in a young person before, and was wondering if young J fit any known phenotype. He seems to gradually be coming out of his shell, the staff at the program are committed to supporting him him, and he is gradually developing friendships with some of the other students.
I was wondering if there is a term for his sensitive yet withdrawn behavior, and if anyone could recommend resources that might be helpful.