Experiences of Parents of Students with Autism

Lisa Rubenstein discusses the article, “Lived Experiences of Parents of Gifted Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder: The Struggle to Find Appropriate Educational Experiences” that appeared in Vol. 59 No. 4  October 2015. It can be downloaded from http://gcq.sagepub.com

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One thought on “Experiences of Parents of Students with Autism”

  1. Dear Editor,

    I read a blurb on the NAGC online magazine regarding the concept of “openness to experience” and then read the article in Volume 60 #3 July 2016 issue. I have some serious concerns about the terminology and wonder if some issues could be clarified.

    Gifted children have extremely efficient brain function. The difference between gifted and normal has to do with how the brain and nervous system works. It is not clear to me whether personality constructs are thought to be nature or nurture, though it seems pretty clear nurture has a big role. Overexcitabiilties as I understand it, is a purely nature concept. One does not choose to have an overexcitable nervous system. I am not particularly open to the experience of irritation from my shirt tag on my neck, for example. This phenomenon, therefore is less psychological than neurological. It is not under any volitional control, which is why it is important to be aware of this trait especially among gifted children, who by virtue of an immature frontal lobe, have the most difficult time controlling this aspect of their nervous system. “Openness to experience” may be a good term for adults with mature frontal lobes who are more sensitive or sophisticated in their processing of stimuli, but it does not get at the issue we see in gifted children.

    When more sophisticated testing is available, I postulate that these individuals have a higher resting potential in at least some neurons, which gives rise to firing of the nerves with minimal stimulation. Alternatively, the mechanism by which the nerve habituates to normal stimuli may be weaker or defective. It is easy to speculate that the increase in awareness of the environment might confer advantages in understanding the world and therefore be associated with higher intelligence.

    Whether it is correlation or causation, hypersensitivity and intensity of response to stimuli (both internal and external) is clearly a characteristic of gifted individuals that can be problematic for children. I don’t think the term “openness to experience” is an accurate term for this phenomenon.

    I believe a clarifying article is in order as this would affect research in the future.

    Sincerely,

    Jean Bove Goerss MD
    Jean Goerss
    jeangoerss56@gmail.com

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