Quite often intense, sensitive, overexcitable, more-able children have been referred by teachers or social services to a health care professional due to an assumption of a behavioural issue . Generally they don’t assess his or her intellectual and creative abilities, and even if they do they often don’t take into account the consequences of being different from the norm.
We like parents to be aware what kind of behaviour of an intense, sensitive, overexcitable, more-able child can be seen as a problem in itself by an educational or health care professional however it may have another explanation that requires a different measure to be able to improve the child’s or family’s well-being.
Webb et al. (2005) have kindly given permission to replicate the following list of more common presenting complaints for more-able children in the hope that teachers, parents and professionals will become more knowledgeable about which behaviours should be considered with special care. Often those behaviours lead health professionals to believe they deal with only a behavioural disorder. Those behaviours in the high-able should be treated as part of the whole person, in this case the more-able person, of which the high-ability is often neglected and this neglect can may be part of the cause of the problem. (Webb et al., 2005)
All the identified behaviours can be a problem in their own right. Intense, sensitive, overexcitable more-able children aren’t immune to emotional and behavioural disorders, but their behaviour should be thoroughly investigated before treatment.
The diagnosis must include knowledge of the environment and the individual, because a mismatch between those two could lead to problem behaviour. (Webb et al., 2005)
Frequent referral Problems for intense, sensitive, overexcitable more-able Children
- He has a high activity level and low impulse control. I wonder if he has ADD/ADHD?
- This child is too serious for her age; she continually worries about moral, ethical, or philosophical questions. Is she depressed?
- He is always into things, taking things apart. Why can’t he leave things alone?
- For someone so bright, he has very little common sense. How can we teach him simple judgement?
- She is a perfectionist; she expects way too much of herself and others.
- She sleeps little, but she has extremely vivid dreams, sometimes even nightmares or night terrors.
- He’s a bed wetter and a sleepwalker.
- She’s so picky and sensitive. I have to cut the tags out of the backs of her shirts, and she complains that the fluorescent lights distract her at school.
- He seems too emotional; he gets intensely frustrated when he is unable to accomplish a goal, and he throws temper tantrums at such times. We walk on eggshells at home in order to avoid these meltdowns!
- He can’t seem to complete tasks or stay on track. His room and desk are disorganised and messy. He forgets to turn in work that we know he completed.
- She seems narcissistic and overly self-absorbed. Everything revolves around her.
- He has difficulty relating to peers. He want to boss them around, and he doesn’t share interests of other kids his age. He’d rather spend time alone or with older kids or adults.
- She continually asks questions, interrupts others, and shows off her knowledge.
- He is way too sensitive and obsessed by fairness. He is in tears if he sees something horrible on the evening news. Is this normal for a child his age?
- The teacher tells me she’s bright, but she won’t do homework. She might fail her class even though she does well on tests.
- She constantly argues with us and defies us at every turn. She’s always looking for a way to outsmart us. We don’t know what to do.
- He completely lacks social skills and has no interest in reading anything except science fiction. I’m worried because he has no friends except two older boys in his science club. Someone suggested he might have Asperger’s Disorder.
- She’s angry and impatient; she just seems antisocial.
- He’s so advanced in some areas and not in others, and his handwriting is particularly poor. Does he have a learning disability?
- She’s a chronic day dreamer and loses everything we give her. Does she have a mental problem of some kind?
- He’s so moody and even explosive at times. It’s like he has two personalities. One minute he’s exuberant; a few minutes later he’s screamingly angry. Someone said he might have Bipolar Disorder.
- Her teacher believes my child has ADD/ADHD.
- From what I’ve read in magazines. I am sure that my child has Bipolar Disorder or Asperger’s Disorder.
Frequent referral Problems for intense, sensitive, overexcitable more-able Adults
I have lost many jobs because I am more concerned with fairness then with making a profit.
- My spouse says I am too sensitive and too serious.
- I feel different from others; I just don’t enjoy socializing.
- My job evaluation says I am too impatient with others, and because of this, they don’t want to work with me.
- I feel duty-bound to challenge others’ thinking! Needless to say, they don’t like it when I do, and it’s causing social problems.
- I can’t seem to find anyone to date for a long-term relationship. There’s no one who shares my interests. I guess I’m just different.
- My spouse says that I am too involved in too many things to the neglect of the family. We’re wondering if I have a Manic-Depressive Disorder.
- My spouse says my intensity at work and at home is driving her crazy.
You can buy Webb’s and his colleagues very clear written, informative and practical book about Misdiagnosis and Dual diagnosis here. It is a gem for every professional (and that means you too parent;) dealing with intense, sensitive, overexcitable, more-able atypical children.