Els De Wit (Belgium): On "The Woodpecker in my Brain."

The Woodpecker in my Brain

Due to the overexcitabilities, as described by Dabrowski, stimuli come in at a greater level with the highly-profoundly gifted. It is of great importance to learn gifted children how to deal with this overload of information, input, and emotions. It is very easy to become swamped, or to say it in the words of one of my children: “to crash and burn”.

With the children in my groups, I like to use figurines that represent the basic emotions of a human being. Those who know me well also know that I am not easily satisfied by doing what “normal” people do. Normal can be boring and incomplete. Talking about basic human emotions barely covers the overwhelming feelings our highly-profoundly children experience when looking at a painting, standing on a crowded playground, falling from a swing, or being sucked up in an intensive and thorough discussion of what is the best superpower to have. It is self-explanatory that only covering basic human emotions during sessions barely scratches the surface and ignores the rich inner world of our highly-profoundly gifted children.

So, my figurines are missing some friends - better said: some feelings. That’s when the real discussion, and the real work, start. What emotions are also in your brain, in your body, in your heart and are not represented here? I get the most fascinating results out of this exercise: the boiling pot, the walking heart, a wobbly alien, a tired bunny who cannot stop running, … and a woodpecker. This one was followed by the question: “can you help me with silencing my woodpecker?”. He explained to me the following:

“There is a woodpecker in my brain. He is always knocking with his beak on my brain. Tock, tock, tock, tock. I ask him to stop, but he never does. Next to him is a rat in a wheel. She is so tired, but she cannot stop running. It is as if it’s the only thing she knows how to do. How do I stop the rat from running and the woodpecker from picking in my brain?”

His brain felt like his enemy, never shutting down, always wanting his attention. But it is also this inner drive – the need to do, the need to create, the need to feel you exist -  that makes our highly-profoundly gifted children what defines them.

Learning about your own feelings, learning about your own buttons and how to turn them to your own liking, is a necessary skill for our highly-profoundly gifted. A skill that teaches you that all these stimuli are not your enemy but can help you thrive if you know how to use them well and that you can indeed tone them down when you want to.

Els De Wit is the founder of Talentvol, which supervises highly-profoundly gifted children from pre-school age. Els wrote the first book on highly-profoundly gifted children in Dutch. She is a member of the IGC (International Gifted Consortium) and a researcher on the current IGC study on the prevalence of emotional, intellectual, imaginational, psychomotor and sensor overexcitabilities in highly-profoundly gifted children. Her company Talentvol gives highly-profoundly gifted children what they deserve: a place to be themselves. You can go there for individual trajectories, group trajectories, information sessions and guidance.