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Home  >  Family and Community  >  Family Features
Abbigale Hears in Color  -  Emotional Response
By Hilary Seitz, Ph.D. « Prev   Page 6 of 7   Next »

Abbigale has always been labeled a "shy child" because she refuses or possibly can't speak when others approach her.  She often stares at them and smiles a small smile.  Even a simple request such as, "What is your name?" elicits this "shy behavior."  This behavior has always intrigued me because it almost seems as if she physically can't speak in these situations. 

She also has extremely vivid memories of "scary" experiences that seem to reappear.  For example, when Abbigale was three and a half years old, we (our family) were hiking in the woods near our house.  We were playing in the river and she ran over to the stroller to get a granola bar.  The stroller was 20+ feet away behind a tree.  When she got to the stroller, she noticed a moose standing right next to the stroller.  Abbigale ran back to me and we ran into the river to get to a safe place.  Now, nearly five years later, she still vividly will recall this event and is very reluctant to go to the woods near our house, always worrying there may be a moose.  I asked her about these feelings one day.  She told me the following, "Well, when you ask if I want to go in the woods I get scared 'cause we got chased by the moose."  I pushed her to explain further.  "Well, the moose covers the chart so all the stuff is gone except there is a big brown moose standing over the chart."  I asked her if this happens with other things that are scary too.  She nodded her head quickly.  She painted a picture of the moose that she sees when I mention the woods.

Emotional responses tend to change the chart configuration depending on the experience.  She mentions that it feels like she has rocks in her head (in her chart) sometimes when she hears too much information.  Sometimes the colors of the different boxes just swirl together other times they actually turn into a new shape.  When there are too many people around, such as being on a crowded street in Chicago, the circle (the outer rim of the head chart) turns skin colored with purple swirls.  When she feels excited about something, she gets a layer over the chart that is yellow and red with exclamation marks all over.  If there is someone that asks her for information (an adult, a doctor, even someone she knows), she doesn't answer and the information in her head turns into "slimy slithering shapes."  The background of the chart goes dark blue and the shapes are light blue.  Abbigale gave me more information other emotions.  Each emotion triggered a change in her "head chart."  Most elicited a top layer (moose shape, swirls, rocks) over the boxes.  She mentioned once these changes in her head chart happened it was hard to talk.

About the Author: Dr. Hilary Seitz is an Associate Professor and the Early Childhood Program Coordinator for College of Education at the University of Alaska Anchorage She has been teaching in the Early Childhood field since 1986 as an infant/toddler teacher, preschool teacher, primary grades teacher in public school, reading teacher, and as a college professor since 2003. Her research interests include: family-community partnerships, early literacy strategies, teacher research and reflection using observations and documentation, and currently she is exploring pre-service early childhood teacher education practices. In her free time, she enjoys reading, camping, skiing, hiking, sewing, cooking, and spending time with her family.
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