244: Giftedness & Neurodivergence in the Overexcitability Framework

The Nuances of Overexcitability

Today’s show looks at the differences and overlap of giftedness, twice-exceptionality, autism, and ADHD within the overexcitability framework. Join us to learn more!

Chris Wells is a writer, therapist, and researcher on all things Dabrowski. She has a nuanced take on the concept of overexcitability, a topic on which she has focused much time, energy, and study. Chris is our first three-time guest on the podcast, having appeared most recently to discuss positive disintegration. Let’s hear more from Chris!

In this episode:

  • How Chris came to overexcitability in 2014 on her quest to learn more about twice-exceptionality
  • Chris was identified as gifted as a kid but felt more disabled and mentally ill
  • She felt broken and emotionally intense by the time she was 40
  • Chris became hyperfocused on understanding overexcitability
  • Understanding turned around her perceptions of herself as problematic and defective
  • Chris found Dabrowski’s early work, which identified four types of excitability: psychomotor, imaginational, sensual, and emotional
  • The gifted education world has finally accepted excitability not only as a characteristic of giftedness
  • Why overexcitability is an umbrella term that brings together all the elements of neurodivergence
  • Chris says autism and ADHD are “clearly neuro-cousins”
  • There are so many misunderstandings about overexcitability in gifted education
  • This experience brings a whole different reality to those who have it
  • Chris’s imagination would take her to another place and another reality when she was growing up–and this framework gave her the answers for it
  • The problem in learning to live with overexcitability
  • Why giftedness is a meaningful difference, even in adults
  • How we can best support those with overexcitability in light of the knowledge we now have and the labels we use
  • Why we struggle as a whole to figure out the right language to use

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