As I dropped off my two older daughters at school today, I gazed at my middle daughter in the rear-view mirror and contemplated her for a moment. She was chattering about something and looked over at me and smiled. I thought at that moment she looked absolutely radiant. Perfectly HER. I thought about how hard it is to preserve her unique self as a parent. She’s my child that is highly energetic, constantly chattering, always moving. It’s hard to parent a child with so much energy. I can’t keep up with her most times. She makes me nervous, except I’m almost certain I was like her in many ways as a child.
This morning, as I was putting some lotion on some dry skin on her body, I saw how slender she is. I slightly felt guilty because she looks like she doesn’t eat enough. Whereas her sisters have that little tummy pooch and their legs are chunking up from being stuck indoors most of the time…her body does not have much body fat. I worry about that…but I know she eats a lot compared to her sisters. She just is CONSTANTLY moving and wiggling and talking and her brain is constantly active.
It’s ironic, because this is the child who was once selectively mute in preschool for a year and a quarter, not talking at all to her teacher and classmates and holding her body rigid and tense. I always thought the high energy she displayed had something to do with her giftedness, and suspected that the constant stream of chatter and noises emanating from her was a part of her gifted wiring. Now I have my suspicions confirmed.
Somehow I missed this article by Sharon Lind over at the SENG Website
Overexcitability in the Gifted. I’m highlighting the section on psychomotor overexcitabilities.
Psychomotor OE is a heightened excitability of the neuromuscular system. This Psychomotor intensity includes a “capacity for being active and energetic” (Piechowski, 1991, p. 287), love of movement for its own sake, surplus of energy demonstrated by rapid speech, zealous enthusiasm, intense physical activity, and a need for action (Dabrowski & Piechowski, 1977; Piechowski, 1979, 1991). When feeling emotionally tense, individuals strong in Psychomotor OE may talk compulsively, act impulsively, misbehave and act out, display nervous habits, show intense drive (tending towards “workaholism”), compulsively organize, or become quite competitive. They derive great joy from their boundless physical and verbal enthusiasm and activity, but others may find them overwhelming. At home and at school, these children seem never to be still. They may talk constantly. Adults and peers want to tell them to sit down and be quiet! The Psychomotor OE child has the potential of being misdiagnosed as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
- Allow time for physical or verbal activity, before, during, and after normal daily and school activities-these individuals love to “do” and need to “do.” Build activity and movement into their lives.
- Be sure the physical or verbal activities are acceptable and not distracting to those around them. This may take some work, but it can be a fun project and beneficial to all.
- Provide time for spontaneity and open-ended, freewheeling activities. These tend to favor the needs of a person high in Psychomotor OE.
I know my daughter is NOT ADHD, because within the classroom, she’s a totally different child than outside the classroom. While she is more relaxed within the classroom, completely verbal this year, and yet still quiet and respectful at the appropriate times. So I know her psychomotor OE’s are within her control – well at least for the 2.5 hours she’s at kindergarten. Well see how she does in a 6 hour day next fall.
I think that it’s time to re-enroll her in ballet classes. We stopped for a while during the winter months because of the bad weather and the holidays, but I think it’s time to start up again. And we got away from doing some of the sensory therapy activities…because we “solved” her selective mutism, but I think we need to keep doing some of those activities to get her movement needs met.
Do you have a gifted child who has a high level of psychomotor OE? What strategies do YOU employ to help channel that energy into something constructive and respectful of others’ needs?