Understanding the Neurology and Overexcitabilities in Gifted Students

When different wiring requires different strategies

chernobyl-meltdown-Overexcitabilities-in-Gifted-StudentsI recall with cheeks aflame one particular visit to a restaurant during which my gifted child unleashed a cataclysmic tantrum .

What set him off?

I have no memory of what flipped the switch.

But my memory is forever stung by scoffing gawks of disapproving patrons and with my child’s expression of terror at his own loss of control.

The kid had spent the entire day at appointments with me. No wiggling, no talking, no activity allowed. His gifted brain was working overtime, firing off brilliant, lightning-speed synapses into the monotone, fluorescent abyss I had trapped him in all morning.

I had unintentionally set up all the elements of a meltdown.

Back then I didn’t know gifted children’s rapid-fire brains are prone to overexcitabilities that many parents and educators fail to understand or integrate into their daily routines.

In this 1-hour course, “Understanding the Neurology and Overexcitabilities of the Gifted”, Lori Comallie-Caplan gives educators and parents insight into the brains of gifted children and provides tools to help them manage overexcitabilities in gifted students.

Lori Comallie-Caplan is a New Mexico Licensed Master Social Worker, a Licensed Educational Diagnostician with a Masters Degree in Psychological Counseling. She is best known for her work with gifted individuals through the lifespan and frequently provides professional development for school districts and mental health professionals in the social emotional needs of the gifted.

Less Meltdown, More Learning

neurology-and-Overexcitabilities-in-Gifted-StudentsWould it surprise you to learn that images of gifted brain activity actually “light up” less than those of average brains?

They are hyper efficient at processing information across hemispheres, leaving room for incredible tension when they are under stimulated or given stimulation to which they are sensitive.

The results can range from a chaotic classroom, to devastating misdiagnoses of ADHD, Autism, Bipolar Disorder, or Oppositional Defiance. Those labels can hang heavy over gifted students unless the adults in their lives take time to learn about overexcitabilities in gifted students and offer tools to them cope.

Are You (Over) Excited Yet?

Overexcitabilities-in-Gifted-StudentsTake a look at Ms. Comallie-Caplan’s list of the five overexcitabilities and see if you can connect any to your gifted students, or maybe even to yourself:

  • Psychomotor: Traits include needing constant movement, having a continuous flow of words, being ever alert, eager and driven. When a student with this overexcitability isn’t able to move freely, he or she may act compulsively or seem hyperactive.
  • Sensual: Traits include sensitivity (positive and negative) to sound, visual stimuli, taste, smell and tactile sensations. Triggers can include perfumes, food odors, textures of food or clothing, and the sound of fluorescent lights. May be confused with Asperger’s Syndrome or Autism.
  • Imaginational: Traits include aptitude for art or science, a tendency to think outside the box, very vivid dreams and imagination, and appearing scattered. May be viewed as having ADHD or oppositional tendencies.
  • Intellectual: Traits include a love of analysis and discovery, the ability to fixate on a subject for a very long time, a strong need for truth and justice, difficulty sleeping because of preoccupation with life/world issues. Intellectual overexcitability can be confused with Oppositional Defiant Disorder, or even Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
  • Emotional: Traits include a strong tendency toward anxiety, having only one or two friends (because they invest so deeply in a friendship), a propensity to have meltdowns under stress, and possibly develop psychosomatic symptoms like stomach ache or headache due to overwhelming emotions. May appear to have clinical depression or Bipolar Disorder.

How can you help gifted students with overexcitabilities?

Explore Ms. Comallie-Caplan’s course, “Understanding the Neurology and Overexcitabilities of the Gifted.” You will gain an ability to recognize types of overexcitabilities in gifted students, and develop strategies to help students make the most of their giftedness, while teaching them tools to manage the hard parts for a lifetime.

After taking this course, you will be equipped to:

  • Name five characteristics of the biology of the gifted brain
  • Describe each of five types of overexcitability
  • Describe both the strengths and the problems that are associated with the five overexcitabilities
  • Name at least three strategies for working with each overexcitability

want this 1-hour course

Delivering Quality Training – No Matter Where You Are

Mobile Ready Professional Development GDid you know that this course is mobile ready? That means you can complete the course on your smartphone, tablet, laptop, desktop computer, or any other mobile device!

Images courtesy of Flickr via EpicFireworks, A Health Blog and Janneke Cobb