Over-excitabilities (OEs)

If you are a parent of a gifted child you have probably already heard about Over-excitabilities (OEs). OEs refer to five specific areas of intense behaviours in children according to one part of Dabrowski’s psychological theory, Theory of Positive Disintegration (TPD). They are:

Psychomotor (physical)
Intellectual, and

Somehow, these five OEs have created an almost religion-like following in the case of some gifted experts, conveyed as the explanation of gifted children’s ‘quirky’ characteristics, initially promoted by the so-called Columbus Group.

I do not belong to that school of thought, based on the following:

1.Findings that indicate that using an OE-type assessment to identify giftedness is not reliable (Ackerman, 1997; Carman, 2011). I have written a brief overview on pp 44-45 in my article, Many Faces of a Gifted Personality: Characteristics Along a Complex Gifted Spectrum
2.An article by Vuyk, Kerr & Krieshok (2016) with a good literature review of OEs and a comparison of OEs to all facets of ‘openness’ in the five-factor model of personality (FFM)
3.Findings in a recent dissertation (link to abstract https://digitalcommons.lsu.edu/gradschool_dissertations/3543/)
4.My own observations as a psychologist and expert in Early Childhood giftedness. The premise I hold as a psychologist is that giftedness is one diagnosis, and additional issues such as ADHD and ASD is another, and should be addressed.

So, if you feel that your child has a number of issues such as over-sensitivities, for example to sounds, food textures, labels in clothing, crowds, and other problems that act as a barrier to normal daily functioning – and you are not sure whether they may be attributed to giftedness, you would be well advised to have your child assessed for possible disorders. You can also find out more about overexcitabilities and other useful information about giftedness through parenting webinars at this link.