Psychomotor Overexcitability or Something Else?

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Here is one of my favorite people in a “performance” of his own choosing. He is gifted, funny, energetic, and often on the verge of being in trouble. Fortunately, his parents and teachers recognize that his need for movement is his psychomotor overexcitability–not a disorder that causes him to “misbehave.”  He has parents who make sure he is well-nourished and gets plenty of sleep and exercise. (He plays soccer and basketball.) But how many kids do we miss? How many are “shushed” or mislabeled? How many never get to experience the sheer joy of being in motion, as this child does?


Kay Shurtleff

Kay Shurtleff

Although my day job is educational consultant for GT/Advanced Academics and ELAR, I also spend ridiculous amounts of down time drinking tea and reading, blogging, tweeting, and playing with language. Writing is a natural outlet, mode of thinking, form of entertainment, and illuminator for me. I'm working on a PhD in gifted education right now, and I appreciate having this forum in which to kick around ideas. Thanks for stopping by G/T-time!

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28 Responses to “Psychomotor Overexcitability or Something Else?”

  1. marianne ross says:

    Yes, I agree that this child’s overexcitability might be misdiagnosed as ADHD.

  2. SarahBarrientos says:

    Agree, it is easy to say/label he may have ADHD tendencies.

  3. Denise Armstrong says:


  4. Lisa S. says:

    I could totally see how his giftedness could be misdiagnosed for attention issues. So that is just more reason why we need to be very educated in the various aspects of both. So that as educators we do a better job of dealing with both in the right way.

  5. Linda Sutterfield says:

    I can see how this child can be labeled as ADHD.

  6. margarett says:

    I would have said that this child is ADHD.

  7. margarett says:

    I would have said that this child was ADHD.

  8. William Igo says:

    He shows definite signs of interest in theatrical presentation as noted in his ending, “Showtime!”

  9. john says:

    Yes, this child could be misdiagnosed with ADHD

  10. victoria bradley says:

    Yes, I can see how one might think he is ADHD, but he knows what he is doing and there is a purpose in his actions.

  11. David Poeana says:

    That is an interesting topic.

  12. Shana Harlow says:

    I agree this child could be mislabeled as ADHD

  13. kim odom says:

    I agree that some people might see a problem related to ADHD. However, I see a child that maybe is in his home that is not structured. He is relaxed and having fun. That short clip does not give one the “whole” story.

  14. Erin Lightsey says:

    Many may see this kid as having ADHD, although his creativity might also make him GT.

  15. Jaime McGinty says:

    This video is prrof that it is very important for educators to be very familiar with the various aspects of both. It would be very easy to misdiagnose.

  16. Linda Fox says:

    I recognize this energy from students I have had in my classes. This young boy exhibits great energy and an outgoing personality. It is important that as a teacher we recognize the creativity this boy also exhibits. He probably won’t be that child who sits quietly in a structured classroom, but in groups or individually working on projects he would probably excel.

  17. Laura Tillman says:

    This kiddo might be looked at as being overactive.

  18. P Foster says:

    I can see the difference of what this child exhibits and ADHD. As has been previously stated, his actions are those he is controlling and he is very gifted in performance. I do have one question about overexcitablities and sensory disorders. How can we tell the difference? Would this not mean that persons with autism could also be gifted in the midst of their social issues? And yes, I do realize that people can be twice gifted or even multi-gifted.

  19. jennifer aguado says:

    I can completely understand how the child could be misread as having ADHD

  20. Garrity says:

    I concur that on the initial contact with this student, my diagnosis would be incorrect.

  21. Stacy Gross says:

    I have seen this on many occassion in my classroom. ADHD!

  22. Taren says:

    I have seen this in gifted children numerous times. I think we are quick to “label” this child as a ADHD.

  23. James Gilbert says:

    This is why my wife used to tell me when I got home, “I’m exhausted!”

  24. Heidi B says:

    Child would seem that he is trying to “show off” for attention through raised voice, wanting to be filmed but on the other hand thinking through his own actions and what he is going to do next, psychomotor.

  25. Grizelle says:

    I guess I do not agree with the consensus. His excitability and psychomotor tendencies, seem to me to be a natural trait that I often see in extroverted children whether or not they are GT. In my lifetime I have noticed that extroverted children tend to “perform” more at many different levels, one of which can be viewed in the video. However, seldom if ever have I noticed any of the psychomotor traits in introverted children, GT or not.

  26. Patricia H says:

    Yes! Many kids get misdiagnosed with ADHD but they are just filled with excitability.

  27. Patricia Osterberger says:

    He seems to love to perform and be the center of attention, but does it creatively and not in a misbehaving way, unless this was in a classroom.

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