Monday, April 4, 2011

Which Two Go Together?

Today Younger Daughter ("YD") was working on a test with her Speech Therapist ("ST").  The conversation went like this:

ST:  Here's three things.  Which two go together?  Egg, apple, banana.

YD:  The egg and the apple.

ST:  Why?

YD:  They're both round.

That's officially a "wrong" answer, of course.  The "right" answer is "the apple and banana go together, because they're both fruit."

Gifted kids often get questions like this "wrong", because they have creative minds that can justify any answer.  Another answer that I personally feel is correct is "the egg and the banana go together, because you only eat the inside."

The speech therapist told me that another question younger daughter got "wrong" was "which two go together: cee, three, and em."

Me:  What's the right answer, cee and three, because they rhyme?

ST (startled):  No, it's cee and em, because they're both letters.

YD's answer was "cee and three, because they're round."  (I sense a pattern!)

ST also told me that YD is above average in her ability to follow directions.  I demand a recount!



  1. I see a lot of this sort of thing with my verbal autistic children. The 9 year old is concerned about the biblical precept of not marrying animals, but isn't sure how to avoid the "asses" because it seems Mom is the only one who can tell who those are...

    Um. It is just Mom not following the biblical precept of shutting her mouth sometimes when she is driving, really... it has nothing to do with donkeys...

  2. PsychMom says:

    I find all those answers fascinating...and I'm assuming that all of those examples were just verbally presented...or did pictures accompany?

    I didn't even "get" the last problem at first because I pretended I was your daughter and heard "see, 3 and em" and didn't know what to think. I totally get the "round" response because I think of letters that way too for spelling purposes.

    And I would be very dismayed if an assessor said my child was above average in her ability to follow instructions.

  3. PsychMom, right, why is following directions seen as a quality we want to encourage? I've heard "follows a three-step direction" as some kind of indicator of intelligence. What is that about?

    I think there were pictures involved when ST was doing the test with YD.

  4. I see that "have problems carrying out multistep directions" is listed as a possible symptom of Auditory Processing Disorder.

    Auditory Processing Disorder in Children

    Sheesh. I can think of zillions of reasons why a kid might not carry out a multistep direction. How does that count as a "symptom"?

  5. PsychMom says:

    So when you think of how complex the task really is...look at pictures, listen to words, figure out the question, then answer the seems silly to conclude that there is ONE answer to the problem.

    Now, if the task was preceded by several examples of how the ST wanted her to answer, then I can see that ONE answer would be more likely to be desirable. I'd still want to listen to the explanation and if it made sense...then it's a case of divergent thinking. Lovely.....not wrong.

  6. This "Auditory Processing Disorder" seems like one more way for schools to avoid looking at their own problems.

    Kid doesn't do what you told her? She must have a disorder.

    From the school's point of view, the important thing is to locate the problem within the child.

  7. PsychMom, it turns out that the "apple, egg, banana" question was an example question (one of three.)

    I asked ST why "egg and apple go together, because they're round" is a wrong answer, and she said it's because you're supposed to choose the most salient characteristic, and the fact that apples and bananas are both fruits is more salient than the fact that eggs and apples are both round.

    Salient to whom, and why? These tests mark conventional thinking "right" and unconventional thinking "wrong".

  8. PsychMom says:

    That is absolutely correct. I don't know what test was being administered but when you think of it, the tests are meant to measure a person compared to what "the norm" the right answers are just a reflection of what most people say. All of it is a measure of how closely you resemble the person next to you.

  9. "This "Auditory Processing Disorder" seems like one more way for schools to avoid looking at their own problems.

    Kid doesn't do what you told her? She must have a disorder.

    From the school's point of view, the important thing is to locate the problem within the child."

    I agree that schools have a blame kid first, next and last mentality. But without decent testing and diagnosis of learning disabilities, the blame comes in the form of- "The kid is lazy, the kid is defiant, the kid's folks don't give a shit about him, the kid's folks coddle too much, and so on..." and they feel free to punish, flunk, and ignore the kid.
    With a diagnosis, you'll still have a tough row to hoe. But at least you'll get some good laws on your side.

  10. There's no such thing as "salience" in a vacuum. The word has meaning only in a context. Of Britain, Germany, and Japan, which ones go together? In a geography class, you'd give one answer. In a history class on World War II, you'd give another.

    When they say a child isn't good at identifying the salient quality, they're basically saying that she can't read the teacher's mind about what kind of answer she wants. So?

  11. @ Suburban Chicken Farmer, I understand what you're saying. Once you've got a diagnosis and a label, you can get an IEP, and then you have access to all the special ed stuff. That might be a good thing, depending on a million variables.

    It's very difficult to know in a borderline case like our daughter's whether it's worth it to go the special ed route.

    In general, I wish schools, and the teachers in them, would be a lot more open to seeing the problems in what they do, and changing the demands that they make of kids.

  12. I'm in law school, and I can confidently say that I'm incredibly disappointed at how we are forced to abide by "conventional thinking." I was told that I was going to be expected to question everything and to approach problems from all angles in law school, but it's really just more of the same. I read for 16 weeks and get told what to think, and then I take a 3-hour exam in which I am supposed to write what I've been told to think.

    Elementary, high school, college, law school, the workplace -- as a society, we stifle creativity and curiosity wherever we go. Questions are inefficient and uncomfortable.