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)
Sensual
Emotional
Intellectual, and
Imaginational

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.