Skittles famous ad taste the rainbow captured many people’s imaginations…
Have you ever tasted the rainbow? Is your Monday yellow? Does Candle in the wind smell like strawberries? If you can even remotely relate to any of these statement’s you probably have Synaesthesia. If not, you probably think I’ve lost the plot.
Synaesthesia is a condition whereby, two senses overlap. This can come in many forms. Some people, like myself, visualise days of the week, or months; as specific colours. Others can hear a piece of music, and associate a particular scent, or colour with it. Synaesthesia affects around 1 in 200 people. However, this is hard to measure as there are so many different combinations and sensory connections. Also, often people don’t disclose their sensory simulations as it might sound outlandish or they don’t realise it’s not a thing.
Find the grey areas
I first realised, at Middle school that my days of the week were colours, Monday was always yellow, Tuesday was blue and so on. It wasn’t until years later that me and my friend somehow got onto the subject, and she did the same thing. However, it is an involuntary attribute so neither of us chose the colours or anything. We became curious and found that it’s actually something quite a few people experience. And that there’s loads of different types. I read about a woman who lost her sight, as it gradually came back, she began to develop Synaesthesia. As she experienced colours so differently, she could only identify them properly, with the element of sound. She began to whisper the colour out loud to regain the ability to connect the visual image with the word. Another story of someone who can actually taste dialogue! There is almost something magic about your senses being able to communicate. Someone being able to personify a letter or smell a number is pretty incredible.
Learning to love your senses
Could Synaesthesia prompt a new way of learning/ teaching? If people can associate pear drops with a score of music, couldn’t bringing sweets help to learn the notes? If someone personifies number could this not be made into a story to help work out equations? There are so many different sensory sequences that could be devised to support different learning styles. For a while now there have been sensory driven play areas and toys to help children’s cognitive processes. My almost, two-year-old Daughter has been to a few sensory play areas that focus on lights, colour and touch. She absolutely loved them and is picking up colours quickly (especially pink- cliché I know!). Sensory toys have also been particularly good for children with disabilities, helping them to focus, be stimulated and to help them to feel calm.
A sense of good
Your senses being heightened is not deemed a bad, or particularly strange thing so Synesthete’s should embrace their purple sevens, enjoy your chocolate smelling Tchaikovsky!
By Claire Exley