Gifted Overexcitabilities: Imaginational Intensity

"Hey Lexi, can we talk for a minute?"
<stares in puzzlement>
"Huh? Did you need me, Mrs. Snyder?"
"Yep, I sure did, little one. Can we talk a minute?"
"Lexi, I noticed that sometimes when it's time to do independent work in the classroom, or when it's time to listen to our read aloud, or even sometimes when other students or I are trying to talk to you, sometimes it can be hard to get your attention. Can you talk to me me about that? Are you having a hard time concentrating? What do you think is going on?"
"Well..." <long pause>
"It's just that sometimes I watch cartoons in the morning before school."
"Okay, sounds pretty normal, kiddo. Do you think that's having an impact on your listening and focus skills at school?'
"Well, it's just that, sometimes when I'm here, I can see the cartoons playing in my head, and I can hear the music. It's like I'm watching the show again, and it's fun!"

Okay. Yep. That's a completely true story. I changed the name of the student, of course, but everything else about that conversation is completely and utterly true. It's a conversation that happened in my classroom probably five year ago, but I remember it like it was yesterday.

This is a prime example of another gifted overexcitability-- Imaginational OE. According to an article at SENG, this OE,  "...reflects a heightened play of the imagination with rich association of images and impressions, frequent use of image and metaphor, facility for invention and fantasy, detailed visualization, and elaborate dreams (Dabrowski & Piechowski, 1977; Piechowski, 1979, 1991)."
Students with Imaginational intensity can often be found daydreaming, doodling, and engaging in dramatic play, sometimes creating entire imaginary worlds and living in them for long periods of time. As you can imagine, people with a strong Imaginational OE can grow to become some of the most prolific creative minds of humanity. 

There is a downside, though. It can be difficult for children to distinguish the difference between reality and fantasy, no matter how illogical it may seem to others. A strong Imaginational OE can lead a child to believe strongly in their nightmares or other scary situations they've imagined up. Sometimes the imagination can be so strong that the child can begin to combine reality and their fantasies into one "memory," and they can end up mixing the two so much that they can no longer distinguish between which parts of the story are real and which are embellished. And of course, in the classroom, teachers need their students to be engaged listeners! It's important to help a child with this intensity gain focus, and learn when and how to channel this creative energy. 

Here are some ways you can help the child in your life to deal with Imaginational OE

  • Help the child to see that the Imaginational intensity is not a negative thing! It's amazing that they have such a dynamic and vivid imagination! They can go on to create incredible stories, movies, songs, you name it. 
  • Provide opportunities in your home or classroom for which the child to USE their Imaginational OE in a meaningful and productive way.
  • Help children understand when it's okay to daydream and imagine, and when there are times they need to focus on educational and other tasks. With the approval of her parents, "Lexi" and I came up with a signal that I would use when I noticed her tuning out during a time when I needed her to tune in. 
  • Use the strength of their imagination to help them help themselves. 
  • Additionally, an article found on the Davidson Gifted website suggests, "Sometimes imaginational people confuse reality and fiction because their memories and new ideas become blended in their mind. Help individuals to differentiate between their imagination and the real world by having them place a stop sign in their mental videotape, or write down or draw the factual account before they embellish it. 
  • And, "Help people use their imagination to function in the real world. Often those who do not want to follow the paths of others are expected to just fit in. Instead, encourage them to use their path to promote learning and productivity-instead of the conventional school organized notebook, have children create their own organizational system."
Thanks for reading! Feel free to comment or ask a question below. I'm happy to help!


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