OEs is short for overexcitabilities. The shortened lingo stems from the longer term “Dabrowski’s Overexcitabilities.” A couple other phrases often used are super -sensitivities, hypersensitivities, increased sensitivity, and intensities. OEs are in fact research based and are often found in the highly gifted population. It should be noted that not all gifted have OEs, but the occurrence is higher in the gifted population than the average population. In addition, OEs will look different in each person. This is because the brain of gifted individuals is truly wired differently and they have asynchronous development (being at multiple levels of functioning at the same time). The feelings of those with OEs is intense and real to them.
There are 5 kinds of OEs. A gifted individual may have more than one or present different ones at different times of any given day. The types are: Psychomotor – intense or surplus energy, Sensual or Sensory – heightened awareness of all senses, Intellectual – thinking all the time, Imagination – vivid and/or overactive imagination, and Emotional – exceptional emotional sensitivity. At this time, justice sensitivity is not a separate OEs but it shouldn’t be overlooked because there has been new research on it. A new study found that justice sensitivity stems from reason and not emotions (the study summarized in Science Daily).
In our house, it really depends on the day in terms of whether OEs are out or not really. Daily intellectual OEs are for sure. DS is constantly thinking and questioning and planning. I’m serious, it never ends. He will wake in the middle of the night with thoughts and in the morning he picks up right where he left off. Sometimes, with even more ideas and questions. DS has justice sensitivities too. I have a previous blog on this: “Justice Sensitivity and Emotional Overexcitability.” We also know that some days his emotional OEs are high while other days they are more typical. However, in our son the intellectual OEs rule the day by far. And, it really is why he needs so little sleep. His brain does not shut down. This is just another reason why homeschooling works for him. He is so motivated and driven that he can work at his pace without being held back. Homeschooling allows him to be asynchronous and have his needs met at the level he needs which is currently 7th grade through high school for academics while emotionally still more like 3rd-4th grade.
The above is an image (unknown author) that went around twitter and FB that describes what people think of highly sensitive versus how someone with actual OE’s feels. If you want to see more charts then go to BuzzFeed for all 16 graphs on highly sensitive people. Remember, those with OEs experience the world differently and their feelings are real to them.
If you are curious about OEs in your child you might want to look at these checklists (It should be noted these checklists were for rating a child, but overexcitabilities can still be found in gifted adults.):
- Over-Excitability Checklist by the Gifted & Creative Services of Australia
- Overexcitability Questionaire by Student Services of British Columbia Canada
- Overexcitabilities Questionnaire from Pillow Elementary GT
Here are some additional reads for better understanding OEs:
- Overexcitability and the Gifted from SENG
- Overexcitability and the Highly Gifted Chid from the Davidson Institute
- Dabrowski’s Overexcitabilities or Supersensitivities in Gifted Children from Parenting
- 5 Unexpected Traits of Gifted Students by Byrdseed
- Overexcitabilities and the Gifted Child by DukeTIP
- 15 Strategies from Managing Your Gifted Child’s Intensities by the Institute for Educational Advancement
- Dabrowski’s Overexcitabilities and Theory of Positive Disintegration by Hoagies’
- Brain Scan Links Concern for Justice with Reason, Not Emotion from University of Chicago News
- When Your Child’s Second Exceptionality is Emotional: Looking Beyond Psychiatric Diagnosis from the Davidson Institute
Acknowledgments and Credits
This blog article is part of the Hoagies’ Gifted Education Page Blog Hop on Overexcitabilities. I thank my friends at Hoagies’ Gifted Education Page and elsewhere for their inspiration, support, and suggestions.
Please click on the graphic below (created by Pamela S Ryan–thanks!) to see the titles, blog names, and links of other Hoagies’ Blog Hop participants, or cut and paste this URL into your browser:www.HoagiesGifted.org/blog_hop_overexcitabilities.htm