My students aren’t just into their favorite things…

They are into their favorite things.

Very rarely is something a passing fancy or light interest; my students become obsessed.

And for understandable reasons.  Gifted children often have what is called the sensual overexcitability.

For an introduction to overexcitabilities (OEs) click here. This is the last in my overexcitability series.  (I have to admit… I’m a little sad to see it end! It’s been wonderful to connect with so many people about this endlessly interesting and important facet of giftedness).

The sensual OE is expressed as a heightened experience of sensual pleasure or displeasure emanating from any of the senses.  And our gifted kids’ obsessions flow from the pleasure side of the this OE.

The kids at One Room are obsessed by all sorts of things — Dr. Who, WWII, gymnastics and dance, dubstep (lord help me), and of course… Minecraft.

And then there’s the flip side. Often, because they also experience displeasure of the senses, these children will only wear certain obscure brands of socks, shirts without tags, and I’ve noticed more than a few of them seem to go without underwear. Seriously.

As the the teacher, I have to be careful of what I eat for lunch (no sauerkraut, I love sauerkraut) and what hand lotion I use. Many of my students are “super-sniffers” and have a high sensitivity to aromas.

The presence of these intense passions and super-senses are hallmarks of the sensual overexcitability. And it’s the OE nearest and dearest to my heart.

Often these gifted children will be perceived as overly picky, stubborn or downright ungrateful. In their younger years the children coping with the sensual OE don’t have the experience or vocabulary to explain that Grandma’s gorgeous handknit sweater feels like an iron maiden. It’s easy to see how signals could get crossed.

But if you think about it, these children are our future taste-makers and aesthetes! Often they know way before everyone else what is going to be cool or “in.” Here is a list of people I identify as having successfully harnessed the sensual OE:

Sofia Coppola: American screenwriter, director, producer, and actress
Vincent Van Gogh: Dutch post-Impressionist painter
Jackie Kennedy: First Lady to President John F. Kennedy and fashion icon
Mark Morris: American dancer, choreographer and director

What would the world have done without these great, gifted people? Can you imagine the bullying Mark Morris would go through in today’s traditional school? Vincent Van Gogh never felt acceptance for his tremendous gifts, and we all know how that story ends.

If your gifted child has a proclivity for creative expression or an intense passion, feed it. In fact, you can often use the sensual OE to get your kid excited about other things. If she’s obsessed by horses, ask her to tell you everything about how horses influenced the Civil War. If he loves rap, ask him to write a rap about the Periodic Table.

Acceptance and appreciation are the things your gifted child wants most and receives the least. It is actually good news that they know what they want.

And if your gifted child struggles with overstimulation of the senses, whenever possible, create a calming environment that limits offensive stimuli.

Please don’t worry if your gifted child is only willing to wear sweatpants. There are some gifted designers out there who understand and are creating some classy options… coming soon to a store near you. 😉