The speech team that works with Jada at her school - an intern and her supervisor - asked to meet with Amy and me last week. Though it was hard for both of us to pull away from work midday to make this, it was worth it, to thank them for their help, to hear how Jada's doing, and to better understand just what Jada's issues are.
Those issues are hard to diagnose and hard to describe. She is exceptionally bright, does well in structured settings, and doesn't seem to lack for friends, so her problems are not obvious. But there are some deficiencies. Her weakness in conversational cues is most evident in informal, unfamiliar settings. I can converse easily with Jada's friends, but their parents can't do the same with Jada. She can describe facts and details, but is a blank on feelings and opinions. She is unable to make an emotional connection with another person, say for example if they are sad or if she accidentally hurt them.
Here's the best example. Stick her with people she doesn't know, and she won't interact with them in any meaningful way. Contrast that with Aaron, who can make new friends really easily. This isn't just a personality difference - obviously, some people are shier or more introverted or more guarded, and there's nothing wrong with that - but rather has to do with her ability to connect with people in unstructured and new ways.
She'll do great in school but these problems may hold her back in other ways, since social functioning is such an important part of being happy and successful. Amy and I feel like, having talked things out with Jada's speech team, we have a better handle on what's going on, and we particularly feel good that they get it as well and will be working with her on it. We'll keep you posted.