Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Observations of Responses to Various Novelties Presented to A Growing Child

Response to Visual Novelty 

Explanation of Purpose: 

This blog documents the responses of a child, Christine, to various novelty stimuli. This is an informal observational narrative. The writer has a background as a teacher, holds a M.Ed., and is a mother of five children. The child shows some developmental abilities that the writer hopes to document over time to form a basis and understanding of the child's abilities, and perhaps at some point, an explanation for the oddities of the child’s variations from high or advanced ability to delayed or disabled presentations of the same skills.

Background of this Observation:

On March 22, 2016, Christine, age six months, was presented with a never before seen book; Flying High by Sue Whiting. The book is three dimensional, with six differently colored plastic jet airplanes, each approximately two inches in length. All jets appeared on the cover of the book, and then, as the book is opened, holes appear to reveal cut out spaces for the airplanes. As each page is turned, one jet 'disappears'. 

Christine has seen airplane models before. Her father builds them and has hung some in her room, and she has seen models during a tour of the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., but she has not seen them presented in color in a book previously. She has been presented with other books before, but not ones with airplanes.

The book was presented directly in front of her while she was in a seated position. Once it was presented, her heart rate increased, and she reached for the book with both hands, with the left hand in a slightly raised position compared to the right hand. The cover of the book was opened to reveal six cut holes on the left side where the airplanes had been seen through from the cover side. The right side contained the six airplanes. With her left hand, she reached for the cut out holes first, rather than the airplanes. Approximately two seconds later, she reached for the airplanes on the right with her right hand, and made an audible sound of excitement, now holding each page. 

As her mother verbally labeled the airplane colors, she continued to lift her hands up and back down on the pages in about the same location, repeatedly. At one point, she turned around and lifted her head to face her mother. As each page was turned for her, one airplane 'disappeared' with the previous page. When the fourth airplane 'disappeared', Christine grabbed the page with both hands to stop the motion of the page turning.

By the last page, her heart rate had dropped a bit, and her behavior changed from banging her hands on the pages simultaneously as described above, to grabbing the remaining purple airplane with her right hand and moving her fingers along its edges, her focus more fixed on the individual airplane. 

It should be noted that each page provides a similar background of various shades of blue and colored con trails. On one page, a cartoon crowd appeared, and Christine noticed and looked at the crowd.

Normally, she is more verbally expressive, but she was notably not this time.

Conclusion and Speculation:

Christine receives occupational therapy to work on a variety of goals, but she shows considerable ability and coordination. Christine shows some bilateral control of the shoulder grapple muscles, brief eye contact with the reader by turning her head momentarily, and excitability at a novel book. Her sight is sufficient for her to immediately detect differences in book pages and cut out, demonstrated by her quickly grabbing the cut out when the cover was turned. She responded to the action of the pages turning by grabbing a page as it was turned, showing planning, and a purpose of action and thought. She made only one sound of excitement at the beginning of the book, but made no attempts to repeat or mimic the words read to her or the colors identified for her by the reader. She altered her behavior by the end of the book to a more focused fine motor activity of grabbing the individual plane, closing her fingers around it, and then moving her fingers along its edges, shows more control than her initial action of banging the earlier pages as a whole with an open hand. 

From my studies as a professional educator and mother, I think her behaviors show fairly typical development, with some indications of high intelligence and coordination, which I can address in later blogs. I might write about some of her perhaps atypical presentations in future blogs,

If others with a background in infant and childhood development which to respond, please do so appropriately.

The book can be seen here on Amazon: