Synaesthesia Discovery

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Grapheme to Spatial Location Synaesthesia

When people talk about synaesthesia that has a sense of spatial quality, they often refer to Spatial Sequence Synaesthesia in which an individual sees numbers, calendar dates or other numerical sequences as points in space. Little may be known that this spatial quality is actually a common characteristic of many synaesthetic perceptions.

Last year, I discussed the sense of spatial location in quite a few blogs. As the opening blog for the new year, I will share a new synaesthesia type which I have given the name of “Grapheme to Spatial Location Synaesthesia”.

To my son Skye, seeing, thinking or hearing a letter or a number can often give rise to a sense of location or a setting. Letter ‘y’ makes him feel that he is in a temple located in China praying in front of a Buddha. He perceives himself watching a few baby ducks swimming in a puddle, on a rainy day, when he looks at letter ‘b’. Letter ‘c’ places him at a playground.

He doesn’t really know how he developed some of his letter and spatial location associations. However, he knows the reason why letter ‘v’ gives him a feel of walking around with a magnet, and seeing many children running with magnets in their hands at the same time. That is because he hears a ‘vvv’ sound from letter ‘v’ which reminds him the sound of moving magnets. Another letter he is subconsciously aware of the association is letter ‘k’. He sees a few four year old children, mainly girls, busy eating grilled meat with little plastic knives and forks. Letter ‘k’ is in both ‘knife’ and ‘fork’. He knows quite a few young girls whose names start with letter ‘K’.

The spatial feel is constantly present. It enriches Skye’s life experience. Both Thomas and I can relate to this kind of spatial sensation.

One of Skye’s favourite numbers, Number 72, has a taste and feel of chocolate, and a scent of aromatherapy oil. The synaethetic perception of this number is to watch himself wandering around an aromatherapy place full of chocolates. One minute he is in a room participating a chocolate judging contest, another minute he is in another room selling dear chocolate.

“Mum, Number 97 gives me a feel of sitting on an ‘L’(earner) plate motorbike riding around the town.” Skye gave me one more example.

Thomas looked at him with surprise. “That’s how I feel too. Sometimes I think I am driving a racing car when I hear 97.”

I am trying to think the reason behind the association between number 97 and motorbike/racing car. It must be something both of them saw somewhere when they were younger. It does show that synaesthetic perceptions are deep-rooted from childhood experience.

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