4.29.2013

::What Color is Your Tuesday?::

That is the question my daughter, Lizzie, asked her schoolmate on the playground as a first grader. The little girl looked at her like she was crazy, shrugged and returned the question to which Lizzie responded, "Yellow."


YELLOW
Photo by Jessica Janae Photography of my daughter Lizzie Love

My daughter discovered--but not until about the age of 20 since she figured everyone saw the world the way she did--that she has an awesome and somewhat rare neurological phenomenon called
SYNESTHESIA--more specifically color-grapheme synesthesia (and a little of some other types). You can read more about it here, but let me explain if I can what it is and a bit what it is like for her.


She sees letters, numbers, days of the week, months of the year, and even people (sort-of like auras, I think) as colored. Synesthesia is essentially a blending of senses. Some synesthetes hear a sound or word that produces a specific taste, others might see a number and identify it with a distinct personality while still others might think of a number as a very specifically defined blob of a particular color. Two different senses mix together.

I knew Lizzie perceived the world a little differently than most and was excellent with color as she won every little local store and school coloring contest but didn't realize this "gift" when she was a child. I do recall going through paint chips trying to select a shade of red for my walls when she was 5. She touched one and flatly stated, "This one has more brown." Most little ones barely know their colors, let alone how to discern shades within others.

A really interesting synesthete is Daniel TammetTammet, a savant with Aspberger's, holds the European record for reciting pi from memory to 22,514 digits in five hours and nine minutes. You can see a video of him here. In his mind, he says, each positive integer up to 10,000 has its own unique shape, colour, texture and feel. He has described his visual image of 289 as particularly ugly, 333 as particularly attractive, and pi as beautiful. The number 6 apparently has no distinct image yet what he describes as an almost small nothingness, opposite to the number 9 which he calls large and towering.

He wrote a book about how he perceives the world called Born on a Blue Day.

Here are some of the ways my Lizzie perceives the world:
--all letters, numbers, days of the week and months of the year have a very specific shade of a very specific color--and extremely varied, too. (Lizzie's synesthesia is very strong--and her colors are very specific. I have a close friend who sees numbers with very detailed and distinct personalities but her colors assigned to letters are very general and not so distinct.) For example, her A is always brick red.  C is brown. E is lemon yellow. So is F, but a tad darker. And they are consistently this way. She describes writing a P which is yellow-green and watching it change to orange as she makes it into an R.

--When her phone rings and she looks at it, she sees a main color of the number and identifies the person calling by the color(s). She knows her friend's number as teal and orange.

--She can memorize things INCREDIBLY well. That ability to use a multiplicity of senses certainly helps here.

--once she "knows" a person for a little bit, she sees them as a very distinct color. I'm a warm orange. Not just any orange. My husband is blood red. Her grandmother is hunter green. Her grandfather as bright sky blue. Interestingly, however, her grandpa is dying of cancer. And she has watched his color change to a darker hue over the past several months. Her husband's color is a rainbow--which gets a little less bright when he is upset.

--If she were to look at a page of 5's and it had a few hidden 2's, she would be able to spot the 2's instantly as they stand out as a different color.



I don't think I have any form of synesthesia. But I am certainly a little color-crazed! There are places on the web to take a quiz to see if YOU have a form of synesthesia. You can try here, or here, or here.

Have a happy and COLORFUL day!!

{On the Board} -- 





3 comments:

  1. OMG! This is the first time I have heard of this. It must make life so different yet so interesting. Since I just love colours I am also feeling a wee bit jealous of such people(makes sense?). Everyday I learn something new. I am thankful to the internet for giving me such lovely friends from whom I am always learning and improving.
    Lotsa love.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I remember as a child, I would attend piano recitals and I heard each performer in a different color. Loved reading your post! Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Won... How magazine. I had never heard of it, so glad to be learning omething new:)

    ReplyDelete

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