Synaesthesia Discovery

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Sound Series: 1. Hearing Flavours


It rained in the morning. Walking through a tree lined street on the way to work, birds were showing off their beautiful voices. This has given me an idea of writing a series about sound synaesthesia.

There are many facets of sound synaesthesia. I will start with sound as a concurrent and an additional sensory experience this month. Next month, I will look from the other angle, i.e., sound as an inducer.

Thomas is an early riser in the morning whereas Skye tends to sleep in as much as he can, definitely has his mother’s gene. :-) To give himself a kick start of the day, Skye hears high-pitched noises made by swans when eating breakfast cereal.

Flavours -> Sounds Synaesthesia and other sound related synaesthesia are some of my children’s favourites. Life without those sounds are probably pretty dull to them.

Skye hears sounds most of the time when he is eating. Hot dogs give him a wind sound. He hears my parents’ home phone ringing tone when he tastes salmon. When he eats a mango, he can hear two Mexico men talking to each other. He also sees himself in Mexico due to his Flavour -> Spatial Location synaesthesia. He associates mangoes with tropical places and hot weather.

One of Skye’s most memorable Flavour -> Sound experiences was that spectacular 3-deck ice cream he had when we were in Vienna. He was hearing an air conditioning noise.

Recently, there were discussions at a synaesthesia forum I am in. Some synaesthetes mentioned that they often felt overwhelmed by their synaesthesia. However, this is not the case for my children. Skye’s five senses are very mingled. Sometimes I wonder if there is much boundary between any of his two senses. Yet he doesn’t feel overwhelmed. He loves almost all his synaesthesia.

One day, I asked my children if they had ever wished that they’d been born differently, and had never had synaesthesia. Both of them were horrified by the thought. They looked so sad after the conversation. The next morning, Thomas woke up crying. He had a nightmare that his synaesthetic calculator friends had been destroyed by a weapon. I felt very apologetic. I was hugging him and trying to comfort him. Skye quickly said, “Thomas, what’s 123+345?” A beautiful smile broke through Thomas’ tears. “It’s 468. My calculator friends are still here.” Skye gave him a smile back. “I told you. Our friends (synaesthesia) will always be with us.”

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