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3V0355.03 Picture Gallery: extensive discussion: 01/12/79

The change in Peggy’s behavior after I mounted our collection of children’s pictures in the bedroom was so profound it marks a watershed in her development. Let me elaborate, and begin by describing that collection of pictures.

When Robby was young, I bought a Nikon 35 mm camera and began taking many pictures. Of the many pictures of Robby — and soon after, of Miriam — I selected favorites every six months or so. The favorite slides I had blown up to 5 x 7 inch prints. We framed them and thus created our collection. During the 2 years we were in Boston, we found the printing too expensive, but our collection still contains about 15 pictures of each child from infancy on.

The first consequence of my mounting these pictures was on feeding. Gretchen typically put Peggy to suck early in the morning in bed. Peggy had been tailing off from breast feeding and demanding more solid foods. The first morning she saw the pictures, she began pointing, (/thaet/,/thaet/) excitedly from one to another. All those familiar children;s faces on the wall ! Thereafter, she might, on one day or another, get the breast wet but she was so distracted she stopped breast feeding. Could Gretchen move to another room and try there ?

Peggy has discovered other vertical walls with other things on them. In every room its /thaet/ and pointing — some times at the foxes (2 pictures) in the living room, wall hangings in the kitchen, and even the telephone the radio (which appears to be another telephone).

I believe Peggy has discovered vertical space as visually explorable. But she surely was aware of walls before ? Yes, surely. And trees ? Certainly so, here (our house was in the woods). But typical of her interest in walls and trees was her response to the sight of sunlit trees through the window, especially on days of a light breeze when the leaves sway gently. Many times I carried her to such a window — but the trees went away beyond her reach. Sitting in a patch of leaf-splattered sunlight on the floor, Peggy would try to pick it up, hit, even mouth the shadows.

The pictures are fascinating to Peggy and they don’t go away when you get close. (They even come off the wall for her to play with). Peggy’s exploration of wall-things is still very tactile. By this I mean that, although the sight of a picture wakens her interest, she is immensely frustrated if she cannot touch it. she will point from one to another and call our attention to them (which I interpret as a request that we lift her to touch them) but I have not seen her sit quietly and study them visually.
This change in Peggy’s range of visual interests has already affected our videotaping sessions. In P49, Peggy was so interested in our wall things that she hardly played with the physical objects in her set of toys. I expect that in future sessions she will be more distractible. Even more of a difficulty will be the task of being sensitive to what Peggy is interested in at a given moment.

If I say Peggy;s world has opened up in the vertical dimension, I don;t imply that she knew nothing of height (or other foolishnesses). I mean to imply that her view of space was as of a surface whereon people moved (and this space had multiple layers, as in our living room where one could look up to a second storey balcony). I believe this new interest in my childrens’ picture gallery has literally added a new dimension to Peggy’s life. How can one follow up that speculation ? Will we soon see her building towers of blocks (of course there would be other influences) ? Has it already had an impact on her standing with no hand (probably not directly). Gretchen says it has only been within the past week that Peggy has stood up and disengaged her hands from supports. She stands on the bed, one hand holding the bedstead, the second pointing at pictures right above her. Since we give her pictures to hold, is it that she now has reason to want free hands while standing (and being able to do so has become also an independent objective) ?

I don’t find myself able to conclude this note in any clean way. This merely shows my confusions about what to expect, even more, about what to look for in following up this event.

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