Tag Archives: word retrieval

Question for Non Word Based Thinkers

Four mornings a week Emma begins the day with a Skype call with a professor in New England who is a bio-chemist.  We call him Dr. C on this blog.  They have a close relationship and their conversations flow easily between them.  I am very much the observer most of the time.

This is a sample of one of their more typical exchanges:

Dr. C:  So if water were linear and not bent what effect would this have on life on Earth?

Emma:  Hydrogen would not be able to find connections to create networks, life as we know it could not be.

Dr. C:  Right, so there would be no dipole or tiny magnet, thus water would not align with a + or – side….

The session before this one, Dr. C asked Emma, as a homework project, to construct a Benzene (C6H6) model, which Emma then did.  It looks like this:



The final piece of the homework assignment was to draw the corresponding Lewis Bond Structure.  This proved much more difficult and took about five attempts before she drew the structure below. (It is awesome and fabulously impressive!)

Lewis Bond Structure

Lewis Bond Structure

The Lewis Bond Structure is basically a replica of the actual three-dimensional model, so much so that you can literally place the model on top of it and it will pair up.  While making the molecular models of things like water, ammonia, methane and carbon dioxide are now fairly easy for Emma, drawing the Lewis Bond Structures are not and it reminds me of a similar problem that writing, handwriting and to a lesser degree typing presents.

I would love to hear other people’s thoughts on why this might be so, but watching Emma cheerfully putting together these models is absolutely fascinating.  And it makes me wonder if this isn’t a key to better understanding how teaching methods might take a page from organic chemistry…

If one thinks in a more three-dimensional way, does it then follow that trying to write, formulate the words to correspond with the thoughts, would present a whole series of challenges?  Doesn’t it suggest that this is more than a “word retrieval” issue?  I’m wondering if there even IS a word retrieval issue, (I plan to ask Emma later) but instead there’s a spatial issue presenting itself as non word based and therefore very difficult to transcribe.


“Music is Language of the Soul”

A friend of ours sent us a link to a short piece about stuttering and singing as something that has proven helpful for some.  After Emma and I read the piece I asked Emma what she thought.  Emma wrote, “Singing is the only time words come easily.”

When Emma was very young many of her therapists would sing various songs to her, but usually repeated the same ones, “Head, shoulders, knees and toes” and “The wheels on the bus” being the two that feature most prominently in my memory of that period.  I was curious about Emma’s memory about those songs and so asked her.

“The mistake people made was in not using music more.  Music was more beneficial than anything else,” Emma wrote.

“Even though you couldn’t articulate the few words you spoke back then, I’m talking about when you were just two and three years old, you loved singing and sang a lot.  Did you understand the meaning of the words of the songs you would sing?” I asked.

Emma wrote, “Yes.”

Did you purposefully choose songs that communicated what you were feeling?

“Music conveyed my feelings more than anything else.  I might feel something that no words can describe.  Music is the language of the soul,” Emma wrote.

Yesterday Richard, Emma and I were discussing consciousness, thinking and different ways of communicating our thoughts.  Emma wrote, “Can you think about how I sense the world and then try not to use words?  My pacifist’s stance is the only way.  Fighting requires words, pacifism does not.”

Richard then asked, “Are you saying that from your perspective you see all intelligence as being linked and one, and we, who use words, fight because we cannot see and understand this?”

Emma wrote, “You are trying to define knowledge and intelligence with inadequate words.  Intelligence is not word based.  Music and words used in song come closest.”

Summer - 2009

Summer – 2009