Overexcitabilities Project Extra

Mrs Webb

Focus for the Week - Parent 101 on Overexcitabilities

This week I am sharing information that I have shared before but since the kids are now learning about the overexcitabilities, I thought it might be a good time to reshare/share with you. This unit seems to be very empowering for the kids and this will help you understand the way your child ticks!! I know it is a lot but even if you saved it and came back to it later, it really has some great information on it!! This week we are going to focus on understanding the social and emotional needs of your students. Rotigel stated in an article that he wrote that " Young gifted children are gifted all day, not just when they are in school or in pull out programs." A gifted student is a true gift but with all gifts comes great responsibility and understanding.


Kazimierz Dabrowski identified five areas in which children exhibit intense behaviors, also known as "overexcitabilities" or "super sensitivities." They are psychomotor, sensual, emotional, intellectual, and imaginational. Gifted students tend to have many of these but one tends to be more dominant than the others. This week I am going to focus on each of the overexcitabilities and will give you several resources to go with each one of them.
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  • Children with this excitability seem to be constantly on the move, a motor always going. They have very high levels of energy and this can happen more when they are not mentally stimulated. If they are mentally stimulated, they can focus for long periods of time. Unfortunately, this is why many gifted students are misdiagnosed with ADHD.
  • Signs of Psychomotor OE:
  1. Rapid speech
  2. Impulsive behavior
  3. Competitiveness
  4. Compulsive talking
  5. Compulsive organizing
  6. Nervous habits and tics
  7. Preference for fast action and sports
  8. Physical expression of emotions
  9. Sleeplessness


The primary sign of this intensity is a heightened awareness of all five senses: sight, smell, taste, touch, and hearing.

  1. Appreciation of beauty, whether in writing, music, art or nature, including the love of objects like jewelry.
  2. Sensitive to smells, tastes, or textures of foods * This can cause students to feel sick or to even obsess over certain foods because of the taste.
  3. Sensitivity to pollution
  4. Tactile sensitivity (bothered by the feel of some materials on the skin, clothing tags) * My youngest child is this to a T!! We have to cut out all tags on clothing, he refuses to wear underwear or socks, and his favorite clothing is UnderArmour because of how it feels.
  5. Craving for pleasure
  6. Need or desire for comfort


This is probably or most recognized overexcitability. Children with this intensity seem to be thinking all the time and want answers to deep questions. They question everything and their need for answers will get them in trouble in school when their questioning of the teacher can look like disrespectful challenging.

  1. Deep curiosity - they want to know how things work
  2. Love of knowledge and learning
  3. Love of problem-solving
  4. Avid reading
  5. Asking probing questions
  6. Symbolical thinking - they can connect multiple concepts
  7. Analytical thinking - sharp sense of observation or independent thought that can come out as criticism.
  8. Independent thinking
  9. Concentration, ability to maintain an intellectual effort


  • The main sign of imaginational overexcitability is vivid imagination. Children with this overexcitability can dwell on things they see in the news or can visualize the worst case scenario in a situation.
  1. Vivid dreams
  2. Fear of the unknown
  3. Good sense of humor
  4. Magical thinking
  5. Love of poetry, music, and drama
  6. Love of fantasy
  7. Daydreaming
  8. Imaginary friends
  9. Detailed visualization
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  • Children with emotional overexcitability have intense emotions and feelings.
  1. Extremes of emotion
  2. Anxiety
  3. Feelings of guilt and sense of responsibility\
  4. Timidity and shyness
  5. Loneliness
  6. Concern for others
  7. A heightened sense of right and wrong or injustice and hypocrisy
  8. Problems adjusting to change
  9. Depression
  10. Need for security
  11. Physical response to emotions (stomach aches caused by anxiety, for example)
Bailey, C. L. (2010). Overexcitabilities and sensitivities: Implications of Dabrowski’s Theory of Positive Disintegration for counseling the gifted. Retrieved from http://counselingoutfitters.com/vistas/vistas10/Article_10.pdf