I found out something staggering this morning. Some things in the world, existed completely differently for me. This really got me thinking and I want to make a point on the impact this may have on children – when they see or understand things differently from you.
So what happened?
I bought my partner a dressing gown, pyjamas and slippers as a present last year. I commented this morning when he came down for breakfast that he was “all co-ordinated.” To which he replied “apart from the dressing gown.” Apparently the dressing gown is brown and the pyjamas and slippers are grey. It does not matter how long I stared at the dressing gown, it was grey to me.
I had always known that I had a difficulty naming blues and greens. I could see the difference in color, but I experienced difficulty. I did not know, however, until this morning, that in some cases, I see an entirely different color.
The reason I saw a completely different color, was because the brown, contained some elements of the color green. (The color brown can be a mix of red and green.) My brain has problems with green and in this case, did not recognize the green at all, so I saw grey, (this does not happen for all browns, I have to say.) This was staggering for me and important as a psychologist. I never questioned my version of reality, (apart from psychological knowledge that reality is the result of our perception) the way I did this morning. I had never questioned, that what I was seeing, was staggeringly different from most other people.
Try the following experiment to help you see what I mean
Look at boxes A and B. What color do you see?
This is just how our brain works, it is how we process visual information and color, to make sense of it. Now, even I can see that the squares look like they are different colors, and find it impossible to fathom that they are the same.
The problem I had this morning, with the dressing gown, was not that my brain was doing something similar to the above experiment.
Rather it is more likely to do with some sort of deficit on my part. Unlike the above experiment, you cannot explain the color to me and suddenly I will see the correct color, as my brain does not work like that. My brain appears to work a little different.
Different is okay but it can feel, not okay.
It does not matter how often you would try to get me to see that the dressing gown was brown, I will always see grey. No amount of persuasion or explanation can change this. My brain works in a different way when processing colors. Telling me I am mistaken or thinking I am stupid, or that I am not trying hard enough, will still not affect the fact, that through my eyes, it is grey. Brown was grey to me.
What would this feel like for a child who was
- learning a new skill?
I imagine I would react exactly the same way I did this morning – disbelief. It is grey, it is plain to see. As an adult, and more importantly, as a psychologist, I was fascinated by it. As a child, I might have started to cry, when everyone stated that it was brown, as my eyes saw grey.
If not detected yet, the child may become increasingly frustrated, as everyone else seems to be okay at something that they find difficult. They may be “told off” all the time for not “trying hard enough.”
Children with dyslexia may have difficulty with reading and understanding. It is not to do with lack of intelligence, but to do with the child’s brain operating differently, or problems that occurred in fetal development. Before dyslexia is detected, the child may feel stupid that they cannot do, or have difficulties completing what is being asked of them.
No amount of explanation or extra work will make the child understand in the way you want them to understand.
Any situation where a child learns.
My partner used to teach music. He said that if a child was not learning as fast as others, or having difficulty learning to read music, do not assume the child is dumb or lazy. Find out if they can see the music, get their eyes tested. This resonated with me as I can remember learning the “eye chart” off by heart as I knew I could not see the bottom lines, but did not want to wear glasses!
I also remembered being in a class where I was asked to answer a very simple question that was on the board. I could not see it and, as such, could not answer. This resulted in laughter from the class and words from the teacher. The not so obvious explanation for why children are not giving the correct answers, can affect the child’s self esteem.
It is beyond the scope of this post, but I hope you are beginning to see, the implications for the child who has ADHD, autism, or anything that results in them operating in a different way.
I was shocked this morning when I discovered the grey dressing gown, was in fact brown, to most other people. I had taken my view on colors for granted.
Do not take anything for granted. Difference is okay when everyone else also understands that the way they view the world, and operate in it, may not be the only way.
Difference is okay.