Overexcitabilities can look very different from one individual to another, which is why it took me so long to identify them as the reason for my son’s unusual behaviour. I’d seen OEs briefly mentioned, but only connection with giftedness, which isn’t talked about here in the UK. (I can imagine it now, like a scene from a sitcom. My son mid-meltdown in the Harry Potter Experience gift shop, while I explain to frowning onlookers, “It’s because he’s gifted, you know”.)
No one here talks about giftedness, and no one talks about overexcitabilities.
Before I found the one person in Britain who does talk about OEs (she’s Dutch) we’d taken our son to see half a dozen ‘experts’, none of whom could explain his extreme reactions. They mostly agreed, though, that his behaviour needed fixing so he could have a normal life.
Sensitivity and intensity reframed
I knew the PowerWood workshop was going to be different when, within the first half hour, we were looking at photos of people like Albert Einstein, Marie Curie, Steve Jobs, Princess Diana, Alfred Nobel and PewDiePie (ask your children about the last one).
What did all these people have in common? They didn’t achieve what they did by curing their OEs – they succeeded because of them.
Finally someone was saying something that resonated with my experience. Yes, my son may be challenging at times, but I’ve always known that his intense energy, imagination, curiosity and zest for life could one day take him wherever he wants to go.
The five types of OE
Our workshop leader Simone de Hoogh went on to talk in detail about the five types of overexcitability – emotional, imaginational, sensual, intellectual and psychomotor. As I listened to the characteristics of each type of OE and the challenges and opportunities related to them, I began to sense a framework within which every single aspect of my intense, sensitive son’s behaviour made perfect sense. The relief was incredible.
Over the next few weeks I’ll be exploring each type of OE and giving a few examples from my family’s experience. I’d love you to join me and share your own stories along the way.