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Subject: Problems with names
Question: My three year old is having a very hard time learning his colors.
refuses to learn his colors. I will ask and he'll tell me, ''you
tell me'' or ''don't talk to me about that''. He can't be dumb or
color blind, because he quite perfectly associates the color
purple as the grape flavor, and brown as chocolate. I tried to
create a game, where I crumpled up balls of paper of different
colors and threw them across the room. Since he likes to pretend
he's a dog, we took turns fetching. I would say what color ball
to fetch, but it seemed kind of hit or miss to me. He lost
interest in the game a lot faster than other games I've made
up. For a while, I thought he knew his colors, and was just
messing with me, but I think he really doesn't know his colors.
He also hasn't learned the names of his cousins, of whom he sees
biweekly. It seems to me to be a related problem.

Beyond that though, he seems to be doing ok. He counts to ten in
both languages (Spanish is the other language) and I have noticed
that recently he has been improving his grammar in both languages
(the objective pronouns in particular).

But I am wondering if maybe he has set up a wierd schemata for
naming things, and learning colors and people's names is hard for
him. I have also noticed that if I ask him to give a name to
something, like a lizard we caught, he will name them after to of
the kids he plays the most with. When we talk about school, he
always talks about Christian, but sometimes I wonder if he means
another kid in his class. He never mentions other kids' names,
but will recognize their name if I say it.

What do you think?

Reply: I really don't know, I'm afraid, but on the specific issue of colours I would say that recognizing purple as grape colour and brown as the colour of chocolate doesn't sound to me like enough to be sure that your boy is not colour-blind. "Colour-blindness" covers a wide range of conditions, it doesn't normally mean that one can't see any colours at all (I'm not sure that _any_ human beings have purely monochrome sight). The most frequent type of colour-blindness, I believe, makes it difficult to tell the difference between green and red, without much affecting colours elsewhere on the spectrum. I do think it might be worthwhile to get the medical profession to check your boy out for colour vision (assuming he is willing to co-operate!) – when I was a boy and had these tests, they showed me pictures made up of coloured dots and asked what I could see, the idea being that depending which colours the dots were, some pictures would not show up to some people. It was a perfectly pleasant and amusing test, nothing "medical" about it at all.

About resistance to learning friends' names, I just have no idea, I'm afraid. Some people are worse about this than others (I'm not very good myself), but I agree that your boy does sound a bit extreme. Still, he is only three! Youngsters do develop an awful lot at that stage in life, so I would not be pressing any panic buttons yet.

Hope this is a bit helpful,

Geoffrey Sampson

Reply From: Geoffrey Richard Sampson      click here to access email
Date: 17-Nov-2012
Other Replies:
  1. Re: Problems with names    Anthea Fraser Gupta     (16-Nov-2012)
  2. Re: Problems with names    Susan D Fischer     (16-Nov-2012)

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