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.

Everything you wanted to know about young gifted children

Here is a podcast interview I did with @mamamia recently. The podcast includes how to tell your child is gifted, and what parents can do to support their young gifted children.

Parent webinars about gifted children are also available at this link.

Could your child secretly be a genius? Podcast interview with @mamamia

“Could your child secretly be a genius? We talk to an expert to debunk every myth you’ve ever heard about gifted kids. Is it only boys who are gifted? Is there a link between genius and autism? Dr Mimi Wellisch answers ALL our questions”.

Podcast can be heard here:

Is Your Toddler Gifted?

There seems to be a great deal of information about gifted children and their characteristics, but very scant information about giftedness in toddlers. Gifted toddlers display a variety of characteristics. Some of the more common ones are set out below:

Unusually alert
When comparing notes with other parents you may find that your toddler sleeps less than others babies and toddlers. Your toddler may be very alert, aware of sounds and noises, light and shade, observing everything with bright, aware, knowing eyes.

Your toddler may be very curious, looking, seeking, and soaking up and all new information.

Excellent memory
You may have noticed that your toddler memorises everything, and that s/he may surprise you by talking about something that happened months ago. This is not unusual in gifted children, who need much less repetition than others.

Play and the Young Gifted Child
I have heard many times from mothers of gifted children that their child does not play the way other children do. They are often not interested in their toys, their play may be to read, and they may prefer adult company and conversation to that of their age peers.

Advanced Abilities in Under 3s
Under 3’s with a variety of advanced abilities may, for example, recite a whole story or sing a popular song word for word, or do 50-piece puzzles, recognise and name the entire alphabet (not in order), count to 100, count by 2s, 5s, carry out simple calculations, and want to learn more. They may love books and insist on you reading one story after another; be unusually skilful with a ball or a trike; give you correct directions to a familiar place when you drive; or sing in perfect pitch.

Advanced Abilities in Over 3s
By pre-school age (3+), a general sign of giftedness can show itself in surprisingly detailed or advanced drawings, for example a map of a town seen from a bird’s eye view, and if you ask, they can tell you a great many things about their drawing. A colourful painting may actually turn out to represent a machine with buttons, levers and pulleys. Similarly, pre-schoolers who are gifted may build intricate and complex buildings with wooden blocks or Lego, and they can tell you in great detail what each block represents. Finally, your pre-schooler may spontaneously learn to read (usually these are the highly gifted toddlers), although few will believe you when you try to explain that you did not secretly tutor your child with flash cards or lessons in phonics.

So, is Your Toddler Gifted?
Your child may have one, two or several of the characteristics described above. Here is some more information about giftedness in young children. However, in order to be sure that s/he is gifted you need to arrange for an IQ (cognitive) assessment.

If you would like to know more, you can access three parent webinars about giftedness here.

Should Mothers Work During the First 5 Years

There has been a bit of a furore over a recent article about working mothers. I rarely agree with Miranda Devine, however, as a psychologist and an early childhood specialist, I am completely in agreement with her views that women should either stay home or work part time, at least for the first 5 years of their children’s lives. Why only mothers? Because the infants who grew in their bodies unsurprisingly experience the greatest amount of security in the company of their mothers while they are young and are therefore much more likely to have a healthy developmental trajectory. So strong is this attachment that from day one infants can recognise the smell and voices of their mothers (and therefore also differentiate between mothers and others)! And why for the first 5 years? Because children’s brains grow faster then than at any other time of their lives. During this time the brain hard wires almost everything that will define the person as an adult: environmental input to their IQ, quality of their relationships, empathy, sociability, and more. There is no amount of child care fees that can pay for this connection or guarantee the optimum level of development that secure attachment provides. Instead, behaviour problems can surface quite quickly in children who attend early-to-late care – a fact rarely publicised – and can risk becoming a future burden on families and society alike. Finally, although children’s services can only operate with regulatory approval, 30% of approved children’s services still do not meet the government’s own National Quality Standard.

Long Day Care and Gifted Children

Welcome to the first Early Childhood Matters blog. Although I may know quite a bit about early childhood, I must admit that I am a very green blogger. I read a blog for the first time yesterday, and this is my very first blog entry. It may therefore be New-Blogger-Optimism, but I am hoping to inspire comments and interesting conversations about young gifted children as a result of this blog.
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Hyper Narcissistic Parenting

I wonder if you came across the article Hyper Parenting by Katie Roiphe last weekend in the Weekend Australian Magazine (July 12-13). I did, and although there were some valid points in the article, it caused me to revisit the sad “feminism vs children’s needs” debate, the one that has thrown out the baby with the bathwater.
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Should we treat all children the same way?

At yesterday’s Understanding Your Gifted Children seminar, a participating father asked a very interesting question: “Why should we treat our children the same way?”. His question reminded me of a little boy in a child care centre I used to know.
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Our Children or The Productivity Commission’s Children?

The Productivity Commission’s recenly released discussion paper “A national quality framework for early childhood education and care” (available here) has no problems with conscience or consequence, and makes no bones about favouring the nation rather than what might be good for families and children.
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