Social and Emotional Development


Giftedness and the Autism Spectrum: A Heuristic Model

Saturday, November 11
8:00 AM - 9:00 AM
Location: 218 B

Characteristics and behaviors associated with giftedness can both overlap with and be distinguished from characteristics of autism spectrum disorders. This presentation considers these similarities and differences through four lenses: descriptions, definitions, distinctions, and explanations. We discuss how concepts and diagnoses related to ASDs can help or hinder our understanding of and work with gifted individuals. Recommendations for parents, educators, and mental health professionals are organized according to five heuristics: insight, quality of cognition, flexibility, context, and severity of impairment.

Mary L. Wandrei

Licensed Psychologist
Wandrei Psychological Services, LLC

Mary L. Wandrei, PhD, has worked in the mental health field for over 25 years and has been a licensed psychologist since 1998. She was a faculty member in the Department of Psychology at Marquette University for several years before returning to her home state of Minnesota in 2006. Dr. Wandrei is currently a psychotherapist with offices in White Bear Lake, MN, where she works primarily with SCIGNNeTs: people who are sensitive, creative, intense, gifted, and/or non-neurotypical. She has a number of special interests for working with children, including assessment, coaching, and psychotherapy for gifted and talented and twice-exceptional children; autism screening/consultation; school adjustment and educational planning; and consultation around executive functioning, anxiety, depression, sensory processing, and temperament issues. She has presented on these topics to parents, educators, and mental health professionals through the MN Council for Gifted and Talented, the MN Department of Education, MN Institute for Talented Youth, Project2Excel, and other public and private conference engagements. She can be contacted at


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Giftedness and the Autism Spectrum: A Heuristic Model

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