Breathing in I Calm My Body: Intensities in the Gifted

Institute for Educational Advancement's Blog

Caroline loves to read — not as a pastime, but as part of her lifeline to the world. She once told me that when she was forced to stop reading in class, it was like her lungs were collapsing, and it was difficult for her to breathe. This seven-year-old has been described as extremely intense and sensitive. The loss of something that comforts her and intellectually feeds her manifests itself in a physical reaction.

Children who feel things with great intensity experience the world in a different way. Gifted young people are often more aware, stimulated, and affected by their surroundings. Emotional or physical reactions to events can last longer than expected and are often replayed in the child’s mind.

Intensities can be characterized by:

  • Extreme feelings: positive or negative feelings; complex emotions; connection with the feelings of others; grand laughter and tears
  • Physical reaction to emotion: stomachaches and headaches…

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The cost of compliance is unreasonable

“Children with autism are being taught to function in the world by learning to pretend to behave like neurotypical people.”

That goes for many other atypical behaviours, too, including thinking too fast/deep/far.

love explosions


IMG_4457Today I sat in my dentist’s reception area waiting for my appointment.  This time my panic had nothing to do with my fear of all things dentist.

I had just read this blog entry

It is certainly not for the faint of heart.  My husband wept after reading it.

This woman articulated so many of my feelings about Evie’s autism–giving them credibility and reason coming from a woman who has autism.

Last year at school, Evie was “flopping” often.  Flopping meaning sinking to the floor.  Some of her special educators felt like it was a behavior and by allowing it to continue, they would be reinforcing the behavior.  I felt like maybe it was a behavior sometimes.  Maybe it was a function of her motor planning/neurological disorders.  We went back and forth about it.

Me stating that she needs time to process before acting physically.  Give her some time…

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A kinder, gentler dopamine… highlighting dopamine’s role in behavioral flexibility

A kinder, gentler dopamine… highlighting dopamine’s role in behavioral flexibility

Now this is what I call interesting!

At least when I’ve taken enough Ritalin to stick with it until read…

1-tweet stories

Inspired by Ernest Hemingway (“For sale: Baby shoes. Never worn.”) and a Quora question, I have set myself a challenge of posting a new story on twitter every day. An entire story, told in just one 140-character tweet. For someone who always exceeds word limits, this is quite difficult, and I’m sure it will be a good learning experience, so I really hope I can stick it out for at least 30 days.

I would greatly appreciate any feedback!

Here are the stories I’ve made so far:

  1. I made love to my husband. Tears rolled, and sobs racked my body as I realized he had sex with me.
  2. ”Where do you think daddy is?” My phone transmits a little girl’s silent scream. “So, what do you want to talk about now, mommy?”
  3. A message from HIM? Positive? Or negative? Or worse: neutral? Wait, the message changes? Drats, I can’t read it knowing I’m dreaming!
  4. “I am so useless!” she said in the car. But the way her friend’s face lit up when she opened the door showed us the truth.
  5. My child is in 1000 pieces, in a box. A week from now, I’ll see her, flat on a table, but still running through the snow of the puzzle.
  6. That wrongful acquittal ruined everything, but you just don’t expect a “not guilty” after carefully killing your husband.
  7. “Look at the dandelion pushing through concrete, all that can be achieved with effort!” “Did you see all the dead ones underneath?
  8. I understood that I had never really loved him when I saw him fail. His imperfection made him so real, I fell in love again. Harder.
  9. He braked frantically. “What kind of idiot bars a road with four unmarked poles?” Then the lights hit higher, on the body of the moose.
  10. After wondering for months, our eyes met for the first time, and all I could think was: “But I know you!”
  11. The light hit the most gorgeous of flowers, so its shadow fell on an ant who immediately felt offended and loudly complained.
  12. Couple, conjugated: To live, laughs, loved, has left.We kn
  13. We knew all those people who never came back, and yet, I denied you that kiss.
  14. They called us “gifted”, as if there was no expense draining our very essence of being, no social cost, no identity to use as currency.
  15. The full 1003 passed, and still their eyes were locked. The information thus amassed quite frankly had me… not all that surprised.
  16. Falling always hurts, sometimes a lot. That’s why she decided never again to fall in love. She jumped!
  17. He knew his daughter could not face another rejection, so she kept the application a secret. The acceptance letter came the day after her suicide note.
  18. How could a few steps change him from just a flirt into the man who saw through me, and liked it all? In his arms, I just knew.
  19. It might have been the best thing that never happened to me.

Online debate deterioration

This is out of my usual scope for this blog, and I apologize if my readers find it out of context. Other than blogging, however, I lead an active life (explaining the long gaps between blogposts), and I get into and/or read many debates online on many different subjects. It still surprises me how uncivil some debates get, and how quickly a good debate an unravel, and I’m working towards an understanding of the mechanisms at play.

Below is a somewhat typical debate from somewhere on facebook about “racial microaggressions” as in the link included. I am fascinated by the way this debate went haywire, much in the same way that so many internet debates do, and wonder what we can learn from it. I do not know much about the participants, but I know some things:

One debater is a university-lecturing doctor, and the writer of many books on racism. Several are of above-average intelligence, and have a common interest in the brain. Still, the information I suspect is most crucial for the way the debate fell apart is this: One of the debaters is a bisexual male Jew, another is an African-American woman, and in the actual debate, their names and pictures were shown next to every comment made.

You, reading this, do not have the privilege of knowing the debater’s names or what they look like. This gives you the opportunity to analyze where the debaters start to assume things about each other and respond to those assumptions, rather than to what is actually written. (I have made some minor corrections, mainly capitals, otherwise every word is original).


I look forward to reading your answers to these questions:

  1. Which debater is the doctor?
  2. Which debater(s) identifies with a persecuted minority?
  3. Who makes assumptions about other debaters?
  4. Which assumptions are made?
  5. What could be the basis for those assumptions?
  6. How is the debate influenced by such assumptions?
  7. Would the tone of the debate be more civil if the debaters were anonymized (not anonymous)?

AB Some of those I would not call “micro.”

BC I had the same thought, AB… although they still pale when compared to full-scale aggression. So, “mini-aggression”?

CD The one about “Garcia…” I don’t know if that could be considered unequivocally racist. Seems like a mistake, more or less. But this is out of context, so it’s hard to tell.

DE Some of these things seem to come from ignorance, and most involve prejudice. People should not say them. But calling them a form of aggression seems to cheapen the concept of aggression. Even the definition of “microaggression” given in the article says it can be an unintentional indignity. It seems odd to classify an unintentional physical contact (e.g. bumping into someone) as aggression, so why do it for verbal things? If the concept of aggression can encompass both murdering someone and asking them what language is spoken in Japan, it will lose its utility.

CD That’s a really good point, actually. It is yet another postmodernist perversion of a perfectly fine word.

DE There is such a thing as aggressive ignorance; much prejudice and hatred depends on it. Other forms of ignorance are more innocent, stemming from lack of opportunity to learn. Hence Hanlon’s Razor: “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.” Continue reading

Are gifted children getting lost in the shuffle? 30-year study reveals clues to the exceptional child’s journey Read more at:

Are gifted children getting lost in the shuffle? 30-year study reveals clues to the exceptional child’s journey Read more at: