You Know Your Family Has Overexcitabilities When…

You know your family has overexcitabilities when...

1. You let your son leave the table and roll around the floor with the dogs in the middle of dinner because you know he has to get the wiggles out if he’s going to eat his meal.

2. Everyone has their own peculiar relationship with socks. When you’re going for a winter walk you allow an extra 15 minutes for your son to arrange his seams so they don’t rub. You ask your daughter if she’s been wearing odd socks after you find a couple of mismatched ones in the dryer. She’s aghast. “How could anyone cope with uneven pressure on their feet all day?” Meanwhile you stock up on slippers in winter because you can’t go barefoot indoors except on spotless floors in high summer.

3. Your daughter is ecstatic on Friday because she’s found a video that teaches you how to do the splits in a week. After two days’ incessant practice she’s just a few centimetres from the floor. On Monday she’s weeping because  “I’m never going to get it! Why can everyone do the splits except me?”

4. At parties you have to stop yourself blurting out during short silences in the smalltalk, “I always wonder, what do normal people say when there’s a gap in the conversation like this?”

5. Your daughter comes down wearing a slightly-too-small T-shirt you haven’t seen for a while. She explains she felt bad for neglecting it. You understand perfectly – it reminds you of the time you cried as you turned your back on a broken but much-loved suitcase at the rubbish tip.

6. You all love board games but you’ve never managed to finish one as a family.

7. You have conversations like this:

“Jasper, it’s 25 degrees still, do you really need to wear your teddy-bear onesie in bed?”

“I like it because it makes me feel like a computer glitch.”


“Yes. Sometimes when you spawn into a video game it glitches and you get to see the hair from the inside. That’s what it’s like having my onesie hood up.”


8. Empty parks and stretches of beach are an invitation to skip (and you’re in your 40s).

9. You can’t watch reality TV shows because they’re too stressful.  Or the news. Or soap operas.  When you watch TV with your partner you keep earplugs handy, ready to stick in your ears in case someone on screen is mean. (For some reason your husband objects to you pressing the mute button in the middle of a program.)

10. You accidentally put cinnamon in your Hungarian goulash instead of paprika after your 10-year-old decides to alphabetise the spice drawer.  You’d  have noticed your mistake sooner if you hadn’t been engrossed in an audiobook while you cooked.

* * *

Can you relate to any of our overexcitabilities? I’d love to hear your favourite OE stories, if you’d like to leave a comment below or on the Laugh, Love, Learn Facebook page.

Find out if you have OEs

To find out if you or someone in your family has OEs, take the free online OE questionnaire at the PowerWood website. (Results come back by return email.)

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24 thoughts on “You Know Your Family Has Overexcitabilities When…

  1. Lucinda Thank you for sharing your wisdom. You truly are an inspiration x

    1. Thank you, Anitra, for being a wonderful friend who gets me in all my OE craziness! And thank you for supporting my new blog, I appreciate it very much. 🙂

  2. Thank you for your courage to be transparent for the support of OEs! I would like to be invited to join this group, but it is not accepting my e-mail. Apparently it says it is already listed, but I’,m unable to progress further to the next screen. Would appreciate your assistance with this matter!

    1. Thank you for your kind words, Kathy! I’m sorry to hear you’re having trouble joining and thank you for letting me know. (Am I right in assuming you mean this blog, not the LaughLoveLearn FaceBook group?) Unfortunately I can’t find any problem from my computer, but I’ve asked my teckie husband to have a look later. In the meantime, can I ask what device/browser you’re using when you try to join? eg iphone / android phone / PC / safari / chrome? I appreciate your help, this could be something that is affecting other people too.

      1. Lucinda, Thank you for your correspondence. It all seems to be fine now! Hope your husband didn’ t extend ALOT of effort in researching this issue! Your kindness is appreciated!

  3. I’ve always loved Navigating By Joy and I’ve found much inspiration in your posts there. I’m now really looking forward to following this blog too. For my daughter (9), understanding her OEs has been a huge step in building self-awareness and self-acceptance. The turning point for us was when we read the books by Allis Wade – Orientation and Revelations. Giftedness and OEs are explained in a fictional story. My daughter could relate to the characters and the books opened up lots of discussion for us.

    1. Thank you so much for your generous comment. It’s so lovely to hear from another mum of a child with OEs. Your daughter is lucky to be beginning to learn self-acceptance at such a young age. (I can’t believe it took me 45 years to discover such an important part of myself!) Those books look wonderful, I’ve downloaded Orientation already, and you’ve inspired me to create a page of books about OEs – thank you!

    2. The Allis Wade books are wonderful – the most helpful “parenting” books I’ve read for helping me understand myself and my sons :-). I’m really looking forward to following your blog – I’ve been missing you on Navigating by Joy!

  4. It’s wonderful to know that you’re involved in a cause that is so close to your heart, providing and getting support at the same time. 🙂 Both my husband and my son have OEs, and I knew about it from the start since it’s too obvious to miss to a ‘normal’ person like me (I have my own peculiarities but it’s another story). 🙂 Thankfully I’ve found ways to help them manage their OEs. I didn’t talk about it since I didn’t think anyone else would be interested, but I’m really glad for you that you’re helping to bring about more awareness on this issue. An inspiration as always!

    1. Hwee, Thank you for visiting my new blog, and for your encouragement! Your son and husband are very lucky to have such an understanding mother/wife.

      As I understand it, about 20% of us have OEs to some degree whereas 2% have them to a degree that interferes with everyday life, such they need some help developing coping strategies. Jasper is in that smaller minority but because his reactions can be so extreme they were easy to misdiagnose (as anything from ADHD to pure rudeness/bad parenting) – which is why it has taken me so long to get to this point. I think those are the people I am hoping most to reach here – the parents who are still blaming themselves for the way their child is, and therefore aren’t able to help their child as effectively as they might (ie me, a year ago!). But along the way I am looking forward to connecting with many kindred spirits. 🙂

      Your comment has really helped me clarify my thoughts about this blog – thank you!

      1. OEs, similar to ASD, is very much misunderstood and is on a wide spectrum, which automatically means that there can be a very wide variety on the degree/extent to which the ‘patient’ (for lack of a better word) is affected on a day-to-day basis.

        I’m sorry to hear that you’ve been through the experience of blaming yourself for a condition that is not well understood. I think that’s a natural reaction from any conscientious parent — been there, done that. It’s still difficult for people who haven’t come across this to understand or empathise with the situation. I wish we had spoken about this earlier (privately) so that you needn’t feel as lost as you did before, but I also understand how difficult it is to bring the subject up to just anyone. Still, I’m very glad that you’re seeing some light to the situation now. 🙂

  5. Sorry it has taken me so long to get here (I have my in laws here at the moment and am very behind on almost everything 🙂 )
    I had to laugh at the sock example. Oh yes 🙂

    1. I’m glad we’re not the only ones with peculiar sock issues, Claire. I once packed 5 pairs of socks for Jasper to wear at CenterParcs. It turned out I’d packed the wrong sort (they looked the same to me) and he went barefoot the whole week – in November!

  6. Love your blog, there must be so many families out there who can relate to this! I think many children have perhaps been diagnosed as having ASD, but OE is much more relevant, keep up the fab blog!

  7. Lucinda, I have enjoyed reading your posts and learning more about others’ experiences of overexcitability. I’m working on my own website where I include memoir clips of my own experiences with all five OEs, as an adult (though it includes bits from childhood as well). But I’d like to flesh it out with other people’s stories as well, so people don’t just take my stories as the archetype. People with OE are diverse! I’ll add a link to your site, if you don’t mind. My site is a blog that has many topics, but Dabrowski’s Theory of Positive Disintegration is a big one and the OE section is a subset of that. I find that TPD is more relevant to my adolescent and adult experiences, but definitely had its roots in childhood (starting when my parents moved me out of Montessori to a “normal school,” which I despised). I figure the rest of Dabrowski’s work is likely to be relevant to people with strong OEs, but that OE is a good place to start — it’s where most of us start in our own lives, after all, with our intense natures!

    I’ve enjoyed your blog and look forward to further posts.

    1. Jessie, Thank you so much for writing. It’s a real pleasure to connect with you and to read your work. So far on my blog I’ve focused on the OEs because so little is known about them, and children who are learning to manage their intensity are at such great risk of being misdiagnosed and misunderstood. But TPD interests me greatly and I’m looking forward to digging into your site and reading about it in your accessible style. Thank you for linking to me and I shall certainly be doing likewise, here and on my Facebook page and group!

      1. Oh, yes, I think it makes sense to focus on OEs, and your site is *just* the right resource for the community of bewildered parents out there. I wish my mom could have read this site when I was a kid. Actually, she should probably still read it now…!

        Thank you for offering to share my site, and for those kind words! I look forward to conversing in the future! 🙂

        1. ‘Bewildered’ – yep, that was definitely me! I wish my mum could’ve known this stuff, too. Likewise for chatting in future. 🙂

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