Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Giftedness as an Exceptionality

My sister-in-law has her Masters degree in Behavioural studies, with a specialty in Autism. At Thanksgiving we were talking about exceptionalities, such as ADHD and Autism. I mentioned that in the past more than a couple of people had suggested to me that Alex may have Asperger's syndrome. He shares a few of the same traits but is not lacking empathy (the complete opposite more likely) and does not lack social and emotional reciprocity. The same can be said for ADHD. He has many of the characteristics but not all. In fact, he comes pretty close to qualifying for many labels but always falls just short of some imperative characteristic.

Well, the more I read into giftedness, the more I am surprised. I had always assumed being gifted was sort of a stroke of luck, or genetics, and other exceptionaliities were co-morbid. I thought maybe Alex was gifted but also had ADD. Or perhaps a central processing disorder. Maybe he is bipolar and these are just early signs?

Then I came across this term - overexcitabilities or supersensitivities in gifted children. Huh!? A guy named Dabrowski came up with a group of the most common sensitivities: Psychomotor, Sensual, Emotional, Intellectual, and Imaginational. He says that gifted children tend to have more than one of these intensities, although one is usually dominant.

This one is for the psychomotor (often confused with ADHD in children). Typical traits are:

* Rapid speech -- check
* Impulsive behavior -- check
* Competitiveness -- so-so but we don't encourage that behaviour in general
* Compulsive talking -- oh yes!
* Compulsive organizing -- okay, not this one, lol
* Nervous habits and tics -- yes and getting more noticeable as he gets older
* Preference for fast action and sports -- yes
* Physical expression of emotions -- oh, yes, yes and yes!
* Sleeplessness -- check

It was a real eye-opener. In fact, I joined a few gifted boards online and have met quite a few other parents with pretty similar children. I don't know if I am pro or anti-label, so to speak, but it is always nice to find your people and get more information about why he/we do the things we do.

Interesting find for me. I feel more at ease over Alex's little eccentricities now.

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