Overexcitabilites and the Gifted Student Presented by Patricia De Santi
What does overexcitablility mean? Don’t get too excited. There is much more to it than that! Did you think of a kid that bounces off the walls?
Definition: Overexcitability (abbreviated OE) is the way in which some people are overly sensitive or more easily stimulated than most people.
Background: In the 1960’s a psychologist, Kazimierz Dabrowski, studied personalities. He found that children with potential for higher levels of development (gifted) were extremely sensitive or intense in one or more of these five areas: psychomotor sensual (sensory) intellectual emotional imaginational
A gifted person may possess none, one, or several of these OE’s. When multiple OE’s occur, one is usually more noticeable than the others. The intensity of OE’s will cause conflict and tension at times, even creating problems socially or academically. At the same time, OE’s will enrich, expand, and intensify their mental development. In other words, OE’s are part of what makes people gifted. Which overexcitabilities do you have?
feel “antsy” and just need to move? Do you often: have the need to keep things very organized? have a need to be the best or the winner at something? talk too much or too fast when you are nervous? have nervous habits or tics? like fast action and sports that have lots of movement? use your hands or whole body to express your feelings? act impulsively (without much thought)? These are signs of psychomotor OE.
Psychomotor People with psychomotor OE have the need to move. Their “motors” are always going! Children with psychomotor OE may: be misdiagnosed with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) because the behaviors are similar. have nervous habits or tics. be impulsive. have high levels of energy. need less sleep than other children. have strong, concentrated focus when interested in something. have problems in school when they are not stimulated or challenged enough. love participating in active sports, thrive on activity.
become distracted by the things around you? Do you often: seem to have better hearing than others? enjoy the taste of food so much you overeat? take deep pleasure in tastes, sounds, textures, smells and sights? get sick from particular smells or foods? dislike certain sensations like grass on your feet or shirt tags? have a need for a blanket or stuffed toy you use for comfort? find joy or beauty in music, writing, art, or nature? These are signs of sensual OE.
Sensual People with sensual OE have a heightened awareness through use of their five senses. Children with sensual OE may: feel overwhelmed from stimulation. Have difficulty sorting out all they hear, taste, smell, or feel. appreciate music or art at a younger age than their peers. Refuse to wear certain clothing that feels uncomfortable. go on buying sprees, or want to be the center of attraction. get deep understandings from their experiences. be misdiagnosed as sensory input disordered. become so involved in the love of a piece of music or art that the outside world doesn’t matter.
ask questions about almost everything? Do you often: enjoy puzzles or word games? concentrate intently when interested in something? have a need to understand or find the truth? analyze tasks when you are finished? get frustrated when others don’t get things as quickly as you? get impatient or critical with others who can’t keep up? think about moral or ethical issues? These are signs of intellectual OE.
Intellectual People with intellectual OE are very curious and think deeply about abstract ideas. Children with intellectual OE may: Concentrate or engage in long-term intellectual efforts and have an unusually high ability for problem solving. have incredibly active minds. have an intense curiosity. learn to read at an early age. have strong visual recall of details. have strong moral or ethical concerns (often about fairness). appear critical of or impatient with others. be a keen observer and generate elaborate plans.
have vivid dreams or daydream a lot? Do you: create new ways of doing things? enjoy poetry, music, or drama? fear something and not know why? love to laugh and find the humor in things? enjoy fantasty stories? have or have you had imaginary friends? pay attention to even the small details? These are signs of imaginational OE.
Imaginational People with imaginational OE are artistic and creative. Children with imaginational OE may: prefer not to take perceived chances or risks and may be reluctant to get involved in new situations. have a high level of creativity and imagination. have a rich association of images and impressions. enjoy inventing items or new rules. visualize the worst for any given situation, creating irrational fear. withdraw from discussions and prefer to daydream. often mix truth with fiction and create their own private worlds. prefer to write or draw rather than complete academic tasks.
get told that you are “overly sensitive”? Do you often: feel very shy or timid? have a deep sense of compassion for others? criticize yourself, even when getting a compliment? cry or laugh at movies when others don’t? keep things the same just to avoid change? get anxious or worry about things? get stomach or head aches because you are worried? These are signs of emotional OE.
Emotional People with emotional OE experience intense emotions and complex feelings. Children with emotional OE may: experience long-lasting and deep relationships with strong emotional attachments for people, places, and things. have compassion and empathy for others. experience depression. feel that they are unique and alone. get physically ill or blush easily when nervous. often feel guilty and have a strong sense of responsibility. have problems dealing with change and prefer stability. may be misdiagnosed as bipolar.
Gifted children usually exhibit one or more intense sensitivities known as overexcitabilities or OE’s. They are: psychomotor, sensual, intellectual, imaginational, and emotional. Each OE has both positive and negative effects. OE’s affect relationships and cause inner conflict, but they are also necessary to in order to see reality in a different, stronger, and more multisided manner (Dabrowski 1972). Celebrate the joys of OE’s To summarize:
Go to: http://teacherweb.com/LA/MonteleoneJuniorHigh/DeSanti/apt1.aspx Click “Download Work Files” Click “Overexcitability Self-Evaluation Survey Take the Overexcitability Survey: Parents: Use the survey to rate your child. Students: Use the survey to rate yourself.
Score your survey: Fill in the number of points you scored for each question. Total each section. Use the results of the survey to order your OE’s from strongest to weakest. Do you agree with the results? What more can we learn?
Full class discussion: Move into groups according to your strongest OE. Discuss the questions on the next slide. Parent/child discussion: Compare results from your tests. Discuss questions given on the next slide.
OE Discussion Questions: 1.What problems have you had because of this OE? 2.In what ways have you used this OE to your benefit? 3.How do you deal with the negative aspects of this OE?
For more information just click: Stephanie Tolan gives a background on Dabrowski and explains his concept of overexcitabilities in an easy-to-understand way. http://www.stephanietolan.com/dabrowskis.htm Hoagies’ is user-friendly and a good place to start learning about gifted children. It has many informative articles, book suggestions, and even advice for parenting gifted children. http://www.hoagiesgifted.org/living_with_oes.htm The National Association of Gifted Children has many helpful articles on a variety of topics concerning gifted children http://www.nagc.org/
Bibliography Bainbridge, C. (2011). Dabrowski’s overexcitabilities or supersensitivities in gifted children. About.com: Gifted Children. Retrieved from http://giftedkids.about.com/od/gifted101/a/overexcite.htm http://giftedkids.about.com/od/gifted101/a/overexcite.htm Dabrowski, K. (1972). Psychoneurosis is not an illness. London: Gryf. (out of print) Silverman, L. (1993). Counseling the gifted and talented. Denver: Love Publishing Company. Tolan, S. (1999 Feb). Dabrowski’s over-excitabilities: a layman’s explanation. Hoagies’gifted education page. Retrieved from http://www.stephanietolan.co/datrowskis.htm http://www.stephanietolan.co/datrowskis.htm