When Skye was two and a half, his younger brother Thomas was born. We put Skye into a local child care two days a week. The care for the remaining week was shared between my parents and my parents-in-law. A few weeks into this arrangement, Skye knew exactly where he was going on which day. He described Wednesday was blue and he needed to go to the child care as his room at the child care was blue. Monday was red and it was Pop’s place as Pop’s roof was red, Tuesday was silver which meant it was Ye Ye’s (Chinese for grandfather) place as Silver was Ye Ye’s curtain colour. Saturday was a clear colour and he could have a rest at home.
This was one of my first discoveries of Skye’s synaesthesia. Other early discoveries include his number and colour associations. All the numbers 5 apart belonged to one colour group in his mind, e.g. 4, 9, 14, 19 … were white, 2, 7, 12, 17 … were orange. 2 and 7 were his favourite numbers and the colour Orange was his favourite colour at the time. Later on, I understood that this was a way of assisting him to do calculation or remember big numbers from very young, and colours were what he knew the best at the time.
More than half of those colour associations have changed over the years though some have remained the same. The colour stablisation only happened last year or two.
Due to Skye’s early understanding of arithmetic and dates, quite possibly coupled with his colour perception, by four, he developed a calendar date calculation ability without anyone teaching him. If he was given any date in a future year, he could tell you what day of a week it would be.
However, the advanced development doesn’t mean smooth sail. For a year and longer, we were non stop taking Skye to psychologists and therapies as everyone from child care, kindergarten, and early child care workers thought he was not normal. Even though we knew there was nothing wrong with him, people in authority called this ‘Early Intervention’ and we had to conform to the normal development standards. It seemed that everyone tried hard to slow his mental development down. We were so depressed for a long period of time up to a stage that we thought no school would even accept him.
There were always positive things coming out of negative. We learnt to believe in ourselves and our own instinct. We also learnt every child was unique. We should not compare one to the other. For example, we used to think Thomas was slow as we kept comparing his development milestones with Skye’s, but he turned out to be fine too.
This experience gives me a much better understanding of my own son, his unique creative mind and his extraordinary ability of synthesising information. It also increases my willingness of sharing our stories so that other parents with exceptionally gifted children and/or synaesthetic children do not need to go through many stressful years like what my husband and I had gone through. Let them explore the world, create on their own, and live a fulfilling life.