Concrete -versus- Abstract Thinkers
Our second son, Pasha, may have some brain issues that affect the way he thinks. These could stem from fetal alcohol exposure and one of the areas it impacts has to do with concrete versus abstract thinking. Literal as opposed to theoretical. A figure of speech or else meaning exactly what is said.
He generally has no clue. It’s not the fact that he came to this country just before turning 12 and lacks exposure to such phrases and sayings. At the age of 19, he still doesn’t get it… in any language. Nothing but the most literal lights up his mind.
So I decide to play a game with him, peppering my speech with, what would be for him, “brain teasers”. Literally.
“Petya,” I tease, “What does it mean, ‘I want you to take the bull by the horns?’”
I do this when no one else is around. No need to embarrass the guy. Better to try this without any audience.
So I explain a bit about self-initiative and how it has nothing to do with steer, oxen, or any other farm animals, horns or hooves.
“You know, ‘Carpe diem’, seize the day,” I suggest.
He stares at me blankly.
“Okay,” I try again, “If I told you to ‘Keep an eye out for thieves….’ Would that mean to pull out your eye?”
He looks at me blankly. He does that a lot. Blink. Blink.
We could be here for hours.
“Do you know what that means?” I urge him. “Keep. an. eye. out. for. thieves.”
I hold the imaginary eye in my hand and scan the horizon with it.
“Ye-essss…” he says, putting his hands in his pockets while starting to grow irritated over this exercise.
“And it means?”
I’m cheered by this connection. Could be that I coached him too much on it. But still.
Maybe becoming an abstract thinker is a learned art, similar to abstract art being an acquired taste. Perhaps somebody such as moi needed to guide him into seeing similarities between the phrase and to what it might be referring? We will have to play this game more often….
Anyway, rather than stir up a hornet’s nest, or put a bee in his bonnet, I decide to let sleeping dogs lie for today. We don’t want to put the cart before the horse, but it would be prudent if at least he could look before he leaps.
But no need to worry about that. There’s no leaping here. We’re in a perpetually-stuck mode, moving slow as molasses. Time for some more lightbulbs to go off.
————-Tags: adoptee brain issues, becoming an abstract thinker, brain issues from fetal alcohol, brain issues in adoptees, brain teasers, concrete versus abstract thinking, fetal alcohol in adoptees, literal thinking, literal versus theoretical, neurological impairment in adopted children