Thinking Outside the Rhombus

rhombusI have a sensory fusion target in my exam room that is the Marco version of the Worth 4 Dot Test.  The picture here is an icon, but the projected target has a white circle at the bottom.  I’ve learned to enjoy asking children what they see, and seeing how they handle that red shape on top.  What would you call it?

As noted this morning on a wonderful blog post I received, the shape is technically a square.  However most patients – even quite successful adults, will refer to it as a diamond rather than explain that it is a rotated square.  It goes back a few years now when one of my patients, at the time a precocious 8 year-old, said to me: “I see a circle, two plusses, and a rhombus.”

Whoa!! A rhombus!!  Very clever response, and a way to hedge your bet on the name of the shape in that orientation, particularly in three dimensional space.  Here is the Wiki explanation as to why either of these shapes, the square or the diamond is in the rhombus family.



rhombusThere is another response I get when asking a less open-ended question about what the child sees, in particular “how many shapes do you see out there”?  If the answer is three, we presume that the child is suppressing information from the eye looking through the red filter, and therefore sees only the two green plusses and one circle.  The conundrum comes about when you ask the child, as a cross-check what color she sees and she says: “Red and Green”.  Hmmm … another cross check.  Cover the eye with the red filter and ask the child what color she sees, and she correctly says “Green”.  Cover the eye with the green filter and ask the child what color she sees, and she correctly says “Red”.  So you know you’ve gained understanding, and none of the other testing so far has shown any sign of suppression.  Well of course, the problem is that you’re counting objects and the child is counting shapes by category.  So even though there are four objects, there are only three shapes – circle, plus, and rhombus!

For many of the children we see, particularly those who are gifted and talented in their own ways, language can help plumb the depths of visual perception.

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