Wednesday, September 15, 2010

All the Colors of the Rainbow

It's that time of the week again for Jenny Matlock's Alphabe-Thursday. We're still working on the colors of the rainbow. This week is a bit of a free-for-all. We can pick any color we like, write about rainbow stripes, anything having to do with colors. Next week, we're beginning the alphabet again! My color topic of choice this week is how my daughter loves the colors of the rainbow!

When my daughter was a baby, it was obvious to me that she was smart. She loved to learn whatever she could! For example, she learned her body parts when she was 14 months old! At 17 months, she knew all her colors! I remember taking her to Gymboree music class. She'd be sitting on the parachute which had all the colors of the rainbow on it. The instructor would be busy doing something. To pass the time, I would say to her, "Yellow," and she'd crawl to the yellow color on the parachute. Then I'd say, "Purple," and she'd crawl to the purple color. We had a blast playing this game, while the other mothers would look on with their mouths hanging open, wondering why their kiddos couldn't perform this nifty trick yet. Okay, I was showing off a bit. My daughter wasn't walking yet, so I needed to feel good about her other accomplishments!

She also was great about matching up colored beads with the corresponding colored sticks. At first I was really proud that she understood this concept at such a young age. However, over time, she still seemed to match up her colors almost obsessively. It started to worry me--even before I suspected that she had autism. I remember one day, when she was about 3.5 years old, I purposely mixed up the colored bead on colored sticks. I'd put a purple bead on a green stick and a yellow bead of a blue stick. I made the most colorful combinations! After I was done, I asked my daughter, "Isn't this beautiful?" She looked at me like I was absolutely insane. She gave a polite nod, but then quickly redid everything so that all the beads were correctly matched. It was at this point that I began to wonder if something was going on with her.

About a year later, we went to a park. It was a beautiful day out, and she was having fun running around and playing. She went to a park toy that had these beads that were meant to be played with for the tactile sensation. Each one had two colors on it. I noticed my daughter carefully adjusting each one so the same color was turned up. A little boy came up and ran his hands over the beads to enjoy the feeling. This messed up my daughter's work, and she started to tantrum. I had already been considering getting my daughter assessed for autism. This incident was the straw that broke the camel's back for me. I realized that her behavior was not typical.

Even now that she's 6, she still has an inflexibility when it comes to color. In kindergarten last year, she learned the order of colors in the rainbow (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple). Now she still insists on arranging colors in that order if she's drawing a rainbow. She'll criticize a book if the illustrator doesn't get the order right. I guess she'll always be a stickler when it come to issues of the rainbow.


  1. This is an interesting observation. We have also noticed that our son will order colored objects in the pattern of the rainbow colors at times. At occupational therapy a few weeks ago he stacked a bunch of colored cups in the order of the rainbow. His therapist commented that a lot of her other patients with autism do this as well. It got us wondering what causes them to like this pattern so much.

  2. My guess is that it has to do with putting order and control into their universe. The world can be very chaotic for them, so they like to assert whatever control they have on things. This is just my guess!

  3. It must be frustrating for her, especially when illustrators get the color order wrong. I have to say I agree with her, though. You just can't change the rainbow!

  4. Cheryl, sometimes our kids have varying forms of synesthesia it can go with the spectrum quite often,I'm not suggesting your daughter has it but just ask her how she sees numbers/letters in her mind.
    Other than that - yep, I think it's a way of having rules/regulations in a very confusing world ;)

  5. Thank you for sharing your experiences with your daughter's concept of the colours of the rainbow. I sometimes wonder about my daughter because she can also have a tantrum about things being not in the right order. But so far no one has suggested that she is autistic.
    You have written a very thought-provoking and interesting post.
    Best wishes,
    Anna's Rainbow Mystery

  6. It's fascinating to learn about. I have a brother who suffers from/experiences synesthesia.

  7. To be colorfully inclined is a beautiful thing. Rock on little quirky one.

  8. You just posted above me on someone's site and something made me click on you!
    I have a 12 yr old daughter, who is delightfully quirky, smart, beautiful and sits somewhere btw shades of gifted and maybe a hue of aspergers ...
    back when she was six I hadn't thought of either but just wanted her to fit in and make friends. Now as she has just put in a blogpost she is working on ...
    'Why are you trying so hard to fit in when you were born to stand out?' resonates deeply with me ...
    hoping she has this post up today
    she is at
    wise words by wiki
    Hope you have a colorful day!

  9. That is so interesting about the color matching. It must make the world so frustrating for her at times. We still have sooo much to learn about the wiring in the brain.

  10. Very interesting post. We all have our little quirks, though, and I actually applaud them. I like our differences and am so glad we are all not all regimented into sameness.

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    ( Check out the site to read reviews of readers regarding my book )

  11. What a fascinating story about your daughter. My sister's child, who is also autistic, knew all of the shapes at a similar early age. When she was just a year old, she could say "circle, square, triangle, pentagon, parallelogram," etc. Like you, my sister was impressed with this ability. Later, she realized that this might have been diagnostic clue. But at the time, of course, she had no idea.


  12. It amazes me how sometimes the human brain can work overly hard to create oder in our world. It sounds like you have a good handle on what is going on with her. It's good you figured this out at a relatively young age. Good luck.

  13. oh my, I could have written a good portion of this post. I dont want to go into "my daughter" story here...but I will just say - I hear you loud and clear...

  14. Audrey does the same thing when she draws rainbows, and when she lists colors it's always in the rainbow order. God, just reading about Gymboree class has me breaking out in hives...not good memories for me.

  15. Being a detail person will benefit her later I bet. It can be hard when you want to bend a little though I bet.

  16. OMG! You have an artist on your hands. I have 4 grandchildren and I can attest that she was VERY early in knowing her colors. (I can't remember about my own children) I am an artist so....I say....get this girl into art classes early. Great post.

  17. Your daughter just shows that she will be a strong woman, has her own opinion, and not easily be persuasive! I love that traits!

  18. Uh oh. I hope if you win the giveaway the colors are in the right order for her!

    I really love visiting here. You make me so aware of the issues that face one of my friends back in Ohio with her twin boys.

    Learning this teaches me but also makes me realize how far things have come in helping children with learning needs.

    We're experiencing this on a very small scale with our youngest Granddaughter right now in letter recognition. I remember how it was when my son had that...and now I am so thrilled to see what all is out there to help her maximize her potential.


    Anyway, sorry for jumping up on a wobbly soap box here.

    I just really enjoyed the knowledge you shared with us this week.

    Thank you for linking!

    You're neat!


  19. I work with someone who is mildly autistic. I would never put up a display in her classroom because I like things higgledy piggledy, whereas she virtually measures the gaps between every piece of paper to make sure they are exactly evenly spaced and correctly lined up! It doesn't stop her from being a very good teacher though :)