Synaesthesia sometimes can be so simple that the person who has it doesn’t even know the perception is anything different. That could be one of the main reasons that many of us don’t realise we have synaesthesia until well into the adulthood.
One day, my husband was craving for German sausages as we were walking down a busy street with children trying to find something to eat, and I mentioned the word “Sausage”. I made a joke to him, “I bet you could smell and taste those yummy sausages we had in Germany!” He said of course. “What?!” I was more shocked than him. “Can you smell and taste coffee if I say the word ‘Coffee’?” He paused for a second and said yes. “What’s wrong with that? Doesn’t everyone do the same?”
That’s a common question that almost every synaesthete asked at least once before. We just assume everyone else perceives the world in the same or a similar way because some of our synaesthetic perceptions are just so simple and natural. This episode repeated tonight.
I came home late from work totally exhausted. I didn’t know if I had any energy to write a blog. Children were busy playing their made up games. I asked them if they wanted to tell me a few of their Touch to Sound Synaesthesia stories. If they didn’t want to, I was just going to have an early night.
Skye quickly gave me a couple of examples. He picked up a cardboard box sitting on the carpet, and said when he touched it, he could hear a hammer noise. He usually hears sounds by touching water.
Thomas pointed to an A3 paper which had his clown fish school project work. There are a few clown fish pictures on the paper. He told us he could hear Nemo swimming whenever he touched that paper. I got quite interested. I looked around and found a piece of paper advertising a swimming program. There was a picture of children swimming in a pool. I asked Thomas what he could hear if he touched that paper. He touched it and said he could hear swimming pool noises.
Skye called out. “This is not synaesthesia! Everyone hears that!” I said no, mum couldn’t hear swimming pool or fish swimming sounds. In fact, very few people could hear those sounds. “Really?” Skye was very surprised. “But I hear all the time when I touch a picture or a page.” After talking to them a bit more, I understand that both of them indeed hear sounds relating to whatever pictures or context on a piece of paper when they touch it.