Dabrowski’s Overexcitabilities 
(By Carol Brainbridge)

While they can be active, they are quite capable of focused concentration unless they are insufficiently mentally stimulated. The lack of mental stimulation can be a problem for these children in school.

The primary sign of this intensity is a surplus of energy. Children with a dominant psychomotor overexcitability are often misdiagnosed with ADHD since characteristics are similar.

Examples include; Rapid speech, Impulsive behaviour, Competitiveness, Compulsive talking, Compulsive organising, Nervous habits and tics, Preference for fast action and sports, Physical expression of emotions, Sleeplessness and Sensual.

Parents can get a better understanding of their gifted children by matching their child’s behaviour with the characteristics of each of these intensities. Telling an emotionally intense child to ignore teasing or not let the teasing bother him is impossible advice for the child to follow.


Understanding what lies behind a gifted child’s behaviour will help parents better respond to that behaviour.

The primary sign of this intensity is a heightened awareness of all five senses: sight, smell, taste, touch and hearing. Children with a dominant sensual over-excitability can get sick from the smell of certain foods or as toddlers will hate to walk on grass in their bare feet. The pleasure they get from the tastes and textures of some foods may cause them to overeat.


Some signs you will find are; Appreciation of beauty, whether in writing, music, art or nature. Includes love of objects like jewelry, Sensitive to smells, tastes, or textures of foods, Sensitivity to pollution, Tactile sensitivity (bothered by feel of some materials on the skin, clothing tags), Craving for pleasure and a Need or desire for comfort.


This intensity is the one most recognized in gifted children. It is characterised by activities of the mind. Children who lead with this intensity seem to be thinking all the time and want answers to deep thoughts. Sometimes their need for answers will get them in trouble in school when their questioning of the teacher can look like disrespectful challenging.

Look for things such as; Deep curiosity, Love of knowledge and learning, Love of problem solving, Avid reading, Asking of probing questions, Theoretical thinking, Analytical thinking, Independent thinking, Concentration and ability to maintain intellectual effort.



The primary sign of this intensity is the free play of the imagination. Their vivid imaginations can cause them to visualize the worst possibility in any situation. It can keep them from taking chances or getting involved in new situations.

Be aware of; Vivid dreams, Fear of the unknown, Good sense of humour, Magical thinking, Love of poetry, music and drama, Love of fantasy, Daydreaming, Imaginary friends, Detailed visualization.



The primary sign of this intensity is exceptional emotional sensitivity. Children with a strong emotional overexcitability are sometimes mistakenly believed to have bipolar disorder or other emotional problems and disorders. They are often the children about whom people will say, “He’s too sensitive for his own good.”

Examples include; Extremes of emotion, Anxiety, Feelings of guilt and sense of responsibility, Feelings of inadequacy and inferiority, Timidity and shyness, Loneliness, Concern for others, Heightened sense of right and wrong or injustice and hypocrisy, Strong memory of feelings, Problems adjusting to change, Depression, Need for security, Physical response to emotions (stomach aches caused by anxiety, for example).