Who I Serve

I work with a specific subgroup of gifted students:  Highly Sensitive Person (HSP), Highly Intuitive (HI), Rainforest Mind (RM), and/or Emotionally Intense (EI). I have come to see these not as bounded categories, but rather as personality traits along a spectrum of intellect, sensitivity, emotion, and intensity that characterizes those who are deemed gifted. HSP, HI, RM, and EI students face unique challenges in school, and I provide them with the tools to improve their learning experiences.

My Clients

 Fisher Education Group is a first step for parents in attaining guidance and direction as they begin to make decisions regarding educational and clinical support for their HSP, HI, RM, and EI students. I take a multifaceted approach that honors students' multiple intelligences, global minds, sensitivity, intuition, and empathy when working with them. In my practice, I focus on how to build on the strengths of their personality traits as well as to address the challenges they will meet along their educational paths.

Defining Giftedness

According to the National Association for Giftedness, "students with gifts and talents perform—or have the capability to perform—at higher levels compared to others of the same age, experience, and environment in one or more domains. They require modification(s) to their educational experience(s) to learn and realize their potential." 

Personality Traits of Giftedness

Gifted students possess HSP, HI, RM, and/or EI personality traits in varying degrees and combinations. These traits exist along a multidimensional spectrum characterized by sensitivity, empathy, intellect, processing speed, creativity, analytical capability, intuition, and emotion. Students who possess any or all of these traits often experience negative reactions from teachers, parents, and even therapists. They are told that they are "too sensitive" or they need to "toughen up" or they need to "build resilience" in order to be successful academically. They're often told to "slow down" or "narrow their thinking" to make it easier to communicate with others. For students who exhibit these personality traits, and the often corresponding asynchronous development, saying these these things can be shame-inducing and cause anxiety and depression that may last into adulthood if proper support is not sought.

The Problems With Giftedness

First, let me say that as a 25-year veteran of teaching and tutoring and more recently, educational therapy, I believe that all students have their own unique gifts and talents. In the educational system today, students with exceptional academic abilities and high test scores are designated as "gifted and talented" and put into special programs at school. The problem with this designation is the complex nature of giftedness. Too many people - parents, teachers, and mental health professionals - mistakenly equate giftedness solely with high achievement, assuming that gifted children do not themselves have learning differences and challenges and will thrive if left to their own devices in G&T and Advanced Placement classes. Much research in the last two decades has shown that this is absolutely not the case. Some children are "twice exceptional" while others are autodidacts or strong independent learners, all of which can cause significant intellectual and emotional challenges in traditional education systems. Research of late has also shown that making assumptions about the connections between intelligence and achievement can be fundamentally detrimental to students and can even cause trauma that can lead to irreparable damage in their social, emotional, and intellectual development.

Asynchronous Development

Asynchronous development refers to the uneven intellectual, social, and emotional development that is a hallmark of gifted students. They are often out of sync because they can present as many ages at once. In an effective school setting, curriculum is not the priority but rather the foundation of a holistic approach to education for these students. That is, students need to be challenged according to their intellectual level, but this challenge must come with proper support and scaffolding to meet their unique social and emotional needs. For gifted students, then, academic success often depends more on developing strong emotional and social skills than on curriculum alone. If these two  skills are not developed in conjunction with intellect, even the best curriculum will not help gifted students move beyond the challenging aspects they experience with asynchronous development.

Challenges at School

Students with HSP, HI, RM, or EI personality traits often experience challenges at school if proper support by parents and teachers is not in place. Here are some of the challenges these students face: 

  • Difficulty building relationships with peers

  • Victims of bullying

  • Boredom with routine tasks or wrote learning

  • Resisting changing away from interesting topics or activities

  • Overly self-critical

  • Impatient with failure

  • Perfectionism

  • Disagreeing vocally with others

  • Making jokes at inappropriate times

  • So emotionally sensitive and empathetic that adults consider it overreaction

  • Ignoring details

  • Submitting messy and/or incomplete work

  • Homework refusal

  • Rejection of authority

  • Nonconforming to what is considered appropriate behavior

  • Dominating or withdrawing in group learning situations or projects

  • High sensitivity to environmental stimuli such as lights or noises

How Struggles Present

Struggles with school and school work present in various ways in students with HSP, HI, RM, and/or EI personality traits. Because these categories are not bounded but rather exist along a spectrum of intellect, sensitivity, emotion, and intensity that characterizes those who are deemed gifted, students can present with some or all of the following challenges: 

  • Anxiety

  • Depression

  • Digestive issues

  • Exhaustion

  • Poor concentration

  • Lowered immune functioning

  • Difficulty establishing boundaries

  • Struggle with transitions and decisions

  • Low self-esteem

  • Feeling misunderstood

  • Misdiagnosis of mental health disorders

  • Perceived delayed milestones

  • Failure to prioritize self

  • Sensitivity to external stimuli

  • Insomnia

  • Shutdown