On Wednesday, July 19th, I had a chance to observe carefully an infant for about half an hour in my psychology class at Santa Monica College. The infant, Ali Osman is a healthy, playfull boy, appeared to be of Middle Eastern origin. He is 15.5 months old, 32″ tall and weighs about 24 lbs with brown curly hair, dark brown eyes and fairly tanned skin.
1. There were several kinds of toys like blocks, dolls, automobiles… in the room. However, when he just came in, he was immediately drawn to the dolls with intense focus. Eventhough there wasn’t any way to measure his heart rate or brain wave, I could easily tell how interested he was by the way he gazed, touched and played with the dolls. This could be explained by the fact that “the perception of an unfamiliar stimulus usually elicits physiological responses” (Berger, p. 156). Later, this explanation of mine for his behavior was confirmed to be correct by his mother that he had never seen a doll before. Clearly, he was sensing the strange object and trying to perceive it. And exactly as the text said, “eventually, habituation occurs, in which the stimulus becomes so familiar and uninteresting that these responses slow down.” (Berger, p. 156), he got tired of the dolls and began to pay attention to other toys and people around.
2. According to table 5.2, the Age Norms for Motor Skills in Berger, p. 153, for his age of 15.5 months, 90% of all babies master the skill of walking. Beside being able to walk, just like the majority of infants at his age (from 1-2 years old), Ali is quite a toddler, “for the characteristic way they move their bodies, toddling from side to side.” (Berger, p. 151). Still toddling but Ali obviously belongs to the upper half of the population in mastering his gross motorskill since he is also able to walk backward, a skill that only 50% of infant could master at his age according to again table 5.2.
3. Ali is quite a friendly kid, he is not afraid to be with strangers proving by the fact that he could interact very comfortably with me, my classmates, and other babies. However, when there was some unfamiliar things happened, he always looked for and ran to his mother as described in proximity-seeking behaviors (like when the new baby twins came in or when someone made a scary face to him) (Berger, p. 226). He is a representative of secure attachment by showing that he had no problem with being away from his mother and exploring on his own (Berger, p. 228). Besides, he also reacted to the Strange Situation the way we expected from a secured child as stated in Berger on page 228 and table 7.1, p. 230.
4. After playing for awhile, he came up to me with a book and showed me the content, then he gurgled something, clearly wanting me to read it to him. His intention was well understood. Without sufficient vocabulary, using only hollowphrases, he still has no communication problem, afterall, communication is about understanding not vocabulary anyway (Berger, p. 198). He showed clear signs of understanding his mother’s commands such as “up, down, kiss, bye…” by following them. His spoken language has been developed normally according to table 6.2 in Berger, p. 194. One interesting thing was that when he was sitting in the chair and reading the book, he did not make any recognizable word but “bla..bla..bla…”, however, the way I see it, that was not babbling, he was probably pretending to read but he could not find any word that matched with the content of the book so he ended up with that one-size-fits-all babble.
5. At the age of 15.5 months, Ali is falling into Piaget’s stage five, the stage for experimentation and exploration (Berger, pp. 192-193). “Piaget referred to the stage-five toddler as the little scientist who “experiments in order to see.”” (Berger, p. 193). Ali is a very active, playful and curious boy. Just look at the way he studied the dolls at the beginning and how he played and discovered how to roll some round thing (I don’t know what it was) later, you will see. And fitting the blocks into their right holes also shows that Ali is in fact a little scientist with his “trial and error” experimentation.
6. Ali is passed the age to be awe by peek-a-boo because he has achieved Object Permanence, “the realization that objects still exist even when they cannot be seen, touched or heard” (Berger, p. 181), as early as 4.5 months old. As stated in Berger on page 182, to find a hidden object requires at least two abilities: “setting a goal and knowing how to achieve it.”, and a child will not have those abilities until he is at least 8 months old. Ali is way passed that so he could find something that Dr. Berg was trying to hide under a towel easily. He still enjoys this hide-and-seek game, but it is much less fun at his age “unless the hiding is less obvious” (Berger, p. 183).
7. Ali has a wonderful personality, which is the emotions, behaviors, and attitudes that make an individual unique (Berger, p. 216), or as least I think so for the following reasons. He is outgoing, assertive, active, easygoing, kind and helpful….This characteristic puts him into the 40% easy-temperament (Berger, p. 221). With further observation, I can safely conclude that Ali belongs to the first two dimensions of temperaments in the “big five”, which are Extroversion and Agreeableness (Berger, p. 221).
I cannot believe that I was able to see so much in a child the way the text shows in such a short period. I was particularly impressed with how incredibly secured Ali was, which shows through his friendliness, kindness and curiosity. In addition to his well developed cognitive skill (in communicating, learning, playing…), his general physical conditions as well as his motor skills are also astounding. I would be very happy if I could raise such a healthy child in the future. Finally, I cannot find any problem in your observation setup. Well, afterall, you’ve been doing this for years, I just don’t see how I can beat that.