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MMJMOM
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09 May 2012, 6:53 pm

My son is 6, super smart. Math is his thing...he really gets everything, he is a grade level above in all his work, except math which is even higher. My son can do mental multiplication and division, but if I ask him to describe a tree, or tell me what a tree looks like, he cannot.

So, I say, "describe a tree, make believe I have never seen a tree in my life, tell me what it looks like!" he will say, "The tree looks like it can have apples on it". And if I say what else, he will say other fruit. If I say tell me what it looks like, he will say, "an oak tree, a maple tree, a pine tree" etc...

I asked him to tell me what a flower looks like and he told me it has feathers. He has some issues identifying adjectives in sentences, and asking him to describe something never works.

So, I wonder why he cant describe or even understand descriptive worrds. He can ID nouns, verbs, proper nouns, etc...but ask him what adj is in the sentence and he has to say each word and tell you what it is, go thru process of elimination to find the adjective. "The big bear ran to the tree" he will say "bear is a noun, run is a verb, tree is a noun, so BIG must be the adjective..."

SO any ideas how to get him to understand what an adjective is, and how to describe something? Also would love to know the process behind why it is difficult to describe.

thanks!


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Declension
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09 May 2012, 7:02 pm

Very interesting! Your son sounds like he might be living proof that there is an "adjective module" in the brain, which is the sort of thing that linguists argue about.

Can it really be true that he never uses adjectives in his everyday speech? Surely he must sometimes use adjectives. Maybe whenever you catch him using an adjective, you point it out to him?

Also, it's worth pointing out that grammar analysis isn't as clear-cut as it is sometimes portrayed. For example, under some types of analysis, the words "oak", "maple", "pine" in the terms "oak tree", "maple tree", "pine tree" actually are adjectives.



nebrets
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09 May 2012, 7:23 pm

It sounds like he is a strong associative thinker. When asked about flowers or trees he says things that he associates with them. To him these words do describe trees and flowers.

But I do not have any ideas to better teach him what an adjective is. I look for the word that is closest to the noun that is not a noun, verb, or preposition.


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MMJMOM
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09 May 2012, 7:55 pm

He will use adjectives when talking....like I want the biggest cookie, or I am thirsty, etc..but if asked to tell me tha adj or to describe somrthing, he cant!


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M- 5
M-, who would be 6 1/2, my forever angel baby
E- 1 year old!! !


nebrets
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09 May 2012, 11:40 pm

Huh... In "I am thirsty" I always figured it modified the am, I did not know it was an adjective ,,,oops. That is a great example of me struggling at grammar, at least I can do maths. :mrgreen:

Using an adjective while you speak and knowing what it is are two very different things. Using adjectives correctly and asking a person to just list them are very different. I learned to speak by mimicking the speech of the people surrounding me, sometimes after much correction. I did learn grammar very well until the 10th and 11th grade in high school when I was learning Spanish. The division in the parts of speech made little sense to me. Asking me to describe an object will now get you adjectives and other descriptions, but when I was young it would be words, or other objects that I associated with the object. This is in part because I am a very visual thinker, pictures make sense, language is foreign to me.

It might be better to provide a list of adjectives and have your son match the adjectives that go with an object in a picture.

The concept of adjectives may be harder to grasp because it is more abstract than nouns and verbs. It is easy to understand that a noun is an object, and a verb is an action, but it is harder to understand description words.


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MMJMOM
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10 May 2012, 8:33 am

I guess I used a bad example...more like "The thirsty boy poured himself a glass of milk."

I think for my son, asking him to describe something is too open ended. He is very literal, concrete, looks for patterns and rules for things. "Describe a tree" has no rules, what do I want him to describe? I think the way forward, is to give him rules as to what "describe" means. If someone says describe or tell me what something is like, they are looking for size, shape, color, feel, smell, taste, etc...maybe with rules he will be able to answer the questions better?

Adjectives still prove difficult, I gave him a list of what adj can be, but I cant include every possibility, and he gets hung up on that.


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M- 5
M-, who would be 6 1/2, my forever angel baby
E- 1 year old!! !


jackbus01
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10 May 2012, 3:08 pm

Well, I am an adult, but I cannot tell you what "a tree looks like". The question is far too general to yield a useful answer.
What is your answer to "What does a tree look like?" I am genuinely curious.



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10 May 2012, 3:12 pm

MMJMOM wrote:
I guess I used a bad example...more like "The thirsty boy poured himself a glass of milk."

I think for my son, asking him to describe something is too open ended. He is very literal, concrete, looks for patterns and rules for things. "Describe a tree" has no rules, what do I want him to describe? I think the way forward, is to give him rules as to what "describe" means. If someone says describe or tell me what something is like, they are looking for size, shape, color, feel, smell, taste, etc...maybe with rules he will be able to answer the questions better?

Adjectives still prove difficult, I gave him a list of what adj can be, but I cant include every possibility, and he gets hung up on that.


I think you have it backwards. Maybe you should ask him to describe the tree in your front yard (in other words be more specific).



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12 May 2012, 6:47 am

MMJMOM wrote:
I guess I used a bad example...more like "The thirsty boy poured himself a glass of milk."

I think for my son, asking him to describe something is too open ended. He is very literal, concrete, looks for patterns and rules for things. "Describe a tree" has no rules, what do I want him to describe? I think the way forward, is to give him rules as to what "describe" means. If someone says describe or tell me what something is like, they are looking for size, shape, color, feel, smell, taste, etc...maybe with rules he will be able to answer the questions better?

Adjectives still prove difficult, I gave him a list of what adj can be, but I cant include every possibility, and he gets hung up on that.


I think you just nailed it with the descriptive words. He's SIX. AND an Aspie. That's, like, the definition of specific, literal, concrete thinking.

This is how I "got" the concept of adjectives and adverbs-- Some wonderful soul explained to me that "adjectives tell us more about nouns" and "adverbs tell us more about verbs." It's still not quite 100%, but it covered enough of the category that the exceptions were relatively few and I could memorize them.

Might not work for you, though. I'm that rare creature, an Aspie who is a verbal thinker.

And I never DID figure out what the hell gerunds are for... :lol: :roll:


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12 May 2012, 8:17 am

Just a guess but I wonder if for him, the question just lacks sufficient context to answer. It sorts of sounds like he just can't imagine what a theoretical person who had never seen a tree might want to know about it. "It can have apples in it" - maybe he thought that would be important for someone who had never seen a tree, to know about trees.



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12 May 2012, 9:41 am

BuyerBeware wrote:
MMJMOM wrote:
I guess I used a bad example...more like "The thirsty boy poured himself a glass of milk."

I think for my son, asking him to describe something is too open ended. He is very literal, concrete, looks for patterns and rules for things. "Describe a tree" has no rules, what do I want him to describe? I think the way forward, is to give him rules as to what "describe" means. If someone says describe or tell me what something is like, they are looking for size, shape, color, feel, smell, taste, etc...maybe with rules he will be able to answer the questions better?

Adjectives still prove difficult, I gave him a list of what adj can be, but I cant include every possibility, and he gets hung up on that.


I think you just nailed it with the descriptive words. He's SIX. AND an Aspie. That's, like, the definition of specific, literal, concrete thinking.

This is how I "got" the concept of adjectives and adverbs-- Some wonderful soul explained to me that "adjectives tell us more about nouns" and "adverbs tell us more about verbs." It's still not quite 100%, but it covered enough of the category that the exceptions were relatively few and I could memorize them.

Might not work for you, though. I'm that rare creature, an Aspie who is a verbal thinker.





And I never DID figure out what the hell gerunds are for... :lol: :roll:


thans I will try that! Just might work! He is the kind of kid that once he figures out the rule or pattern he has it forever! I just have to make the connection :)


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J- 8, diagnosed Aspergers and ADHD possible learning disability due to porcessing speed, born with a cleft lip and palate.
M- 5
M-, who would be 6 1/2, my forever angel baby
E- 1 year old!! !


MMJMOM
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12 May 2012, 9:42 am

edgewaters wrote:
Just a guess but I wonder if for him, the question just lacks sufficient context to answer. It sorts of sounds like he just can't imagine what a theoretical person who had never seen a tree might want to know about it. "It can have apples in it" - maybe he thought that would be important for someone who had never seen a tree, to know about trees.


I think you are right. I think he needs to have a rule for "describe" or "tell me what X is like". He needs to know WHAT that person is looking for, like size shape color etc...


thanks!


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J- 8, diagnosed Aspergers and ADHD possible learning disability due to porcessing speed, born with a cleft lip and palate.
M- 5
M-, who would be 6 1/2, my forever angel baby
E- 1 year old!! !


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12 May 2012, 9:51 am

jackbus01 wrote:
Well, I am an adult, but I cannot tell you what "a tree looks like". The question is far too general to yield a useful answer.
What is your answer to "What does a tree look like?" I am genuinely curious.


Mine would be: It usually has a large, tall base (although it can sometimes be thin, depending on the age and type of tree) called a trunk, which usually ranges from dark bark to a reddish brown (again, depending on the tree). This brown to reddish brown material on it is known as bark. At the bottom of the trunk, roots sprawl out, which give the tree a firm grip to the ground. At the top of this large, almost cylinder-like base, little crooked things of the same color (branches) branch out from it. On these, leaves (and sometimes fruit) usually grow from them. Leaves range from a sharp green to reddish to completely brown, depending on the season. Sometimes in winter (in colder areas), the tree sheds all the leaves, leaving almost a bare skeleton, for lack of better word.

The height, color of the bark, whether or not it grows fruit, and other things depend on the type of tree. No two trees look exactly the same.


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MMJMOM
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12 May 2012, 11:58 am

what a tree looks like is just an example, I could have asked him to tell me what a rabbit looks like or a slice of pizza...

FOr a tree, I am looking for color shape and size. I would expect him at six, to say it is tall and has green leaves and gorws in the yard. Or he could say some are small, some are tall and they can have green leaves or other colors, or some have fruit.


Just looking for a basic description.


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Dara, mom to my beautiful kids:
J- 8, diagnosed Aspergers and ADHD possible learning disability due to porcessing speed, born with a cleft lip and palate.
M- 5
M-, who would be 6 1/2, my forever angel baby
E- 1 year old!! !


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12 May 2012, 12:59 pm

MMJMOM wrote:
So, I say, "describe a tree, make believe I have never seen a tree in my life, tell me what it looks like!" he will say, "The tree looks like it can have apples on it". And if I say what else, he will say other fruit. If I say tell me what it looks like, he will say, "an oak tree, a maple tree, a pine tree" etc...

I asked him to tell me what a flower looks like and he told me it has feathers. He has some issues identifying adjectives in sentences, and asking him to describe something never works.!

In the case of a flower, he probably just didn't realize the existence of the word "petals". For a tree, let me explain.

I guess I lucked out; my preschool teachers taught me how to "describe a tree" almost inadvertently when teaching kids to draw. So I'd say something like "it has a trunk sticking out of the ground, and branches and leaves on top", and I'd use a random tree growing on city streets as an example. Apparently, that was the "normal" answer adults wanted to hear, so they'd smile and leave me alone. However, "describe a tree" sounds extremely vague at best, and it's a trick question at worst. What tree? During what season? Is it a western red cedar? A white oak? A coconut palm? An African baobab? Surely, those trees don't look remotely like each other, other than all being biologically classified at trees with the same basic features: root, trunk, branches, and leaves/needles/fronds.

And being smart, your son knows that! So that leaves him wondering where to begin. Let's say that a pine is the most common tree in your region. But he likes maple trees, "because they have nice leaves". Or maybe he went to Disney World, and now likes palm trees because he associates them with the place. (In case you're not from the US, palm trees are very common in south Florida.) Should he talk about a maple or a palm and have it be "wrong" because it's not commonly found in your area? Or should he talk about a pine and not know what to say because he doesn't care for it? Tricks and traps are endless, being an aspie kid, your son probably stumbled into them a million times before. So no wonder he's very cautious about how to "describe a tree". So perhaps you should have a note made in his file, so the teachers and/or shrinks don't stick him with some horrible label just because he wasn't sure which tree to talk about.