icon intellectual overexcitabilityIntellectually OE children have a deep need for the truth and thirst for knowledge. They have a strong sense of justice and fairness and think a lot about related moral issues. Their need to get to the bottom of things and really understand why, means they rarely accept ‘Because I say so’, as an answer. They are curious, liking new ideas which they can ponder over for hours and enjoy solving problems and mental puzzles, often aiming for perfection.

They are able to concentrate and put effort into obtaining the information they want. Children might be early and avid readers. Their drive to ask questions can be so strong that they may go ahead even if it goes against social convention.

“A boy, 8 years old, looked at the women in the elevator.  He tried to hold back, but blurted out just before the elevator reached the ground floor: “Madam, why do you have only one leg?”

Intellectually OE children are very good at detailed planning e.g .for a game, even better if they also have imaginational OE and can be very disappointed when other children don’t appreciate or want to follow their rules.

They like thinking about thinking, have a love of theory and analysis, appreciate moral thinking and introspection, develop a hierarchy of values and are good in conceptual and intuitive integration of information from different realms.

I met Martin (12) at an IT workshop, where he was the only young participant among adults. Martin was asking intelligent questions (beyond my direct comprehension but triggering my curiosity). Sadly the workshop leader became quite uncomfortable and reacted defensely. Afterwards I had a chat with Martin, a very gentle soul, and he asked me “How am I supposed to learn when it offends people if I ask questions they can’t anwser? How am I to know what they know and don’t know?”.
A child’s drive to understand can be high with their mind always questioning. They can become very focused on one specific subject for a long time, which can be mistakenly seen as a characteristic of ASD (Autistic Spectrum Disorder).

When emotionally tense they can be very argumentative and critical, have difficulty with authority, be shockingly foul mouthed (although sometimes humoristic and inventive) and turn every conversation into a battlefield.
Intellectual OE is a very valuable asset as it gives the public access to new information or perspectives. It is the basis of all independent research, organisations that stand up for the underdog like Greenpeace and whistleblowers such as WikiLeaks.

Further Reading


Lucinda’s Blog : 6 Things You Need If Your Child Has Intellectual Overexcitability


Jade Ann Rivera – How to Identify and Cope with Overexcitabilities, Part 3 of 5: Intellectual Overexcitability
Living With Intensity Book edited by Susan Daniels and Michael Piechowski


Find out if you or your child has OE as well

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