Synaesthesia

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Synaesthesia 2013-02-09T08:02:01+00:00
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  • #118916
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    Blue Yugo
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    Post count: 62

    Here’s something I wonder about the ADD community as a whole and if this is something more or less prevalent among ADD’ers.  Does Dr. J read the forums because if anyone stands a chance at knowing what this is, he probably does.

    I have Synaesthesia.  It’s something you’re either born with or will never have.  In a nutshell, it’s a cross-wiring in the brain where 2 senses that don’t normally relate to each other are connected and one stimulus creates an extra unrelated perception.  I primarily have it where letters and numbers appear in specific colors, some colors have taste, sounds have textures and colors, etc.  I’ve never heard it mentioned in a link to ADD, but it does tend to travel through heredity and people with it do tend to be creative and think outside of the box, etc.

    I woke up at 6:42 this morning…and even though the numbers on my clock are pale blue, my mind’s eye sees that as orange-yellow-brown.  Not only that, I also look at that and see that 6 divides evenly into 42 (and then I get a subtle perception of pink because the result is 7.)  It happens automatically, and I cannot shut it off.  I don’t want to shut it off either because it makes the world more interesting, colorful, and honestly is a memory tool that I desperately need.  I am terrible at remembering people’s names, but I might at least remember that someone’s name starts with a brown letter…or green…  And don’t tell me it comes from playing with colorful magnetic letters as a kid…  I have too many browns, whites, blacks, silvers, and pinks which are not colors they came in.  As a 3-year old, my mind knew 5 was blue, not green like the toy number was.  X should never be yellow…it’s silver!  A purple 8 – finally, one in the correct color!! I thought everyone associated letters and numbers with color.  By high school, I’d given kids one more reason to justify that I was some weirdo from another planet, but I found out no one else seemed to be wired this way.

    The only way I can try to get a non-Synaesthete to understand what it’s like having the color association is to look at something familiar (like your nation’s flag) in black and white.  All you see are shades of gray, but you KNOW what color belongs where and you “see” it in your mind.  Right now my PC clock says 7:23.  I see it in white there, black here where I type, but somewhere in my brain, it’s filling in pink-brown-green while I’m still seeing the numbers.

    Like ADD, Synaesthesia is wildly misunderstood by those it doesn’t affect, but the word is beneath most people’s radar and often mis-represented by experts as a “disorder” that should be cured rather than the gift that it is.  Most people don’t have Synaesthesia, and unless they do, they can’t accurately describe what it’s like.  I suppose ADD is like that, although everyone has that occasional “ADD moment” (or “senior moment”).  No one really has a Synaesthesia-moment out of the blue.  I can’t imagine that there’s many studies trying to quantify links between ADD and Synaesthesia, but surely someone’s got to have given it some thought by now…?  I have an Associates degree in Accounting…that’s not for me to figure out.

    – Viv

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    #118917
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    Robbo
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    That is really cool. Totally.
    I sorta wish I could see what you see. People already think I’m weird. So I don’t think I would mind them laughing at me. I don’t even know if people would be as entertained as I am about the way you experience numbers. I know it’s really interesting.

    You get a kick out of it too, huh?. The way you talk about numbers reminds me of my next door neighbor and best friend Stepheny. She calls her dad a “kick in the butt”. lol, I think that’s funny too.

    I tend to laugh at a lot of things that most folks don’t necessarily think is funny. I wonder if the way I laugh at a lot of stuff, or just find things funny is related to the way you experience numbers differently. All of this “strange perception” stuff is ADD/ADHD related if you ask me.

    I think we’re the true ADD experts about us. Not the Diagnostic Statistical Manual. We’re not statistics. We’re not numbers, we’re not numbers any more than “colors” is spelled with, or without the letter U. We are all a bunch of individguals. In fact, I thing that ADHD is only one small charactoristic in the glue that keeps us all coming back to this web site. We all have some other thing in common. It’s something more that just ADHD. Not something I can put my finger on. And this last paragraph is more about all the topics we’ve been talking about here at TotallyADD. It’s about us, this community. I’m super glad to be a part of it too. We’re kindof a special unique but all inclusive club of special people that just about anyone (with ADHD/ADD) can join. All ya gotta do is be accepted (it’s a special secret membership that you only knew you belong to if you know you belong to it) (-:

    Call it the standing on your head waving with one hand club! LOL. (winking, remember the wink)

    (-;

    R-

    RTW

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    #118923
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    Blue Yugo
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    Synaesthesia is experienced differently by people, like some might say that pineapple tastes like squares.  Although I don’t have that type, I can at least appreciate and understand how it might be perceived in the minds of someone for whom that applies.  The numbers are fun…I often like or dislike my phone numbers and car license plates (etc.) based on what color scheme the numbers appear to me as.  My current phone number has an autumn motif with some blue mixed in, but a prior phone number was more like a box of crayons with many colors.  I say 2013 is a green year because of the 3, but 2012 was a brown year because the 2’s are brown.  Someone might tell me their phone number and I often remark like, “Ooh, that’s a colorful phone number.”  Then, unfortunately, I’m stuck either explaining or having my new potential contact think twice about having just given me their number.

    I can remember numbers from long ago because of patterns of color etched in my memory, but I can’t remember the name of a person I was just introduced to because I generally don’t pay attention to stuff like that.  I don’t absorb names.  But after a while, I may at least recall the color of the first letter, yet it will still take me months to remember the full name.

    Science probably has a hard time looking at Synaesthesia because – like ADD / ADHD – it’s different for everyone.  It’s also much rarer than ADD and almost never causes impairment or ‘disorder’ and is therefore dismissed as a curio rather than something the drug companies can make money off of.  Rightfully, I find Synaesthesia a gift.  ADD is sometimes called a gift, too, under the right circumstances.  I think it’s great that in ADD’s case, sometimes people report that it gives them a creative edge.  As someone who’s just recently tested predominantly inattentive ADD, I can’t say I find much from it to be a gift, although I am prone to being super-productive and efficient at times for tasks that don’t really matter or were less priority than the things I SHOULD have done…but any time I can cross something off the to-do list is a win I guess.

    ADD’ers are the experts on ADD…  Synaesthetes are the experts on Synaesthesia.  I do wonder if there’s any sort of parallel between the two in that perhaps Synaesthetes more often or less often have ADD.  No one here probably has the answer.  I mainly wonder because Synaesthesia is also a result of “abnormal” brain wiring and functioning.  You’re born with it…that much they know.  It presents itself by very early childhood and never goes away.

    I’m just learning about the depths to which ADD affects me in my daily life as well as all those doors of my past that the key of ADD has unlocked and explained why my former years transpired the way they had.  Synaesthesia, alas, is just there, like eye color.  It holds no keys, but I wouldn’t trade having it for anything.  As a side note, simply knowing that you meet the criteria for ADD is one thing…but then it’s a journey finding all the places it’s been in the past and how it’s active today…something that you have to go out and observe and discover.  So in many ways, ADD is a much grander adventure and I’m more likely to find people with it than those outside of my family with Synaesthesia.  ADD does not run in my family, and it appears to be a result of having survived Reye’s Syndrome.  I guess that’s why it was overlooked especially during my academically-challenged youth.  I also can’t relate to others in my family since none of them close to me seem to have a hint of ADD.  At least I can relate to a sister and a few cousins with Synaesthesia.

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    #118927
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    Patte Rosebank
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    I’ve always “seen” words as the things they actually represent.

    For example:

    no – looks stern & abrupt

    yes – looks happy & open

    eye – looks like 2 eyes with a nose between them

    bed – looks like a bed (obviously)

    happy – looks upbeat & smiling

    grumpy, angry – look like lowered eyebrows of a frown

    pillow – looks soft & puffy

    It’s only in the past couple of years that I became aware that most people don’t visualize words as I do.  And that there’s a name for this.

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    #118931
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    MarieAngell
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    My daughter has the number-letter color synesthesia and she does not have ADHD. Neither my husband nor I have it, but I’m sure there’s a genetic linkage somewhere. She likes it as well (she’s also very visually-oriented, has always been very interested in color and is now an artist).

     

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    #118942
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    Blue Yugo
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    @marieangell I’ve heard that Synaesthesia often skips a generation.  I’ve heard as many as 1 in 100 people have it, but other places stats can run as high as 1 in 10,000.  Does she say 1 is white?  Most people seem to say that.

    My guess is that there’s no link between Synaesthesia and ADD.  I just wonder from the standpoint that it’s a different wiring function in the brain than what’s called “normal”.  It’s a gift, and with the advanced ways we are using our brains in modern times, we create conduits in our brains that prior generations didn’t have, so maybe it will become more prevalent.  At least for me, my ADD brain just has one more stimulant to latch itself onto, having fun with colors and arithmomania.  Synaesthesia shows up often in artists and musicians.

    Being a babbler, I used to make the mistake of blurting out about having Synaesthesia, but now I try to introduce the topic only to closer friends and try not to get on a rambling motor mouth session about it.  Sometimes people ostracized me once I babbled the topic even though Synaesthesia (like ADD) is nothing “bad” or deserving of alienating someone.  It’s nice to know my odd color association does have a name, and others who share the gift.

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    #118977
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    MarieAngell
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    @blue Yugo, my daughter says she does see number 1 as white. So I guess she’s a “normal” synesthete.

    On the few occasions that there’s been reason to mention her synesthesia, people seem to think it’s very cool. But, yeah, it’s not a good “blurting” topic. (Is there a good blurting topic? Because I could use one.)

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    #118986
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    Blue Yugo
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    There’s no “right” answers to the colors we perceive from numbers or letters, but I did read that statistically 1 is reported to be white very often.  My letter i is also white, as is O, but zero is black to me.  My sister and cousin agree they feel 1 is white.

    I can generally tell who would be receptive, curious, or amused if I tell them about my color associations.  Some people (the types who never understand anything different from themselves anyway) might badger or grill me over it, but I just learned to feel out who might be accepting.  I just sometimes say, without thinking, that a phone number or something is interesting colors without thinking first, and that’s where I might get the strange looks.  Anyway, that’s cool.  As a side note, A is often said to be red and B blue.

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    #125358
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    Patte Rosebank
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    #125360
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    nellie
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    Well that’s really interesting Larynxa.

    I always  felt that how I visualize number sequences was  to some extent connected to the math rods we used in first grades. Although this learned approach doesn’t correlate to my visualization of months and years. I can’t think of anything as a child that would have influenced it.  I also visualize countries as part of map and usually with a  label. But I since my father also has Synaesthesia I would sway in the direction of genetics being responsible.

     

     

     

     

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    #125382
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    blackdog
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    I don’t think it can truly be learned. We all learn to associate various colours/smells/shapes with different things throughout our lives. But it’s not the same.

    I remember one time at the Science Centre in Toronto they had little vending machines with candies in them. One had green candies and one had orange or something like that. But they didn’t taste like orange or lime, like you would expect. I think one was grape and one was cherry. The point of it was to demonstrate how we learn to associate certain colours with certain flavours.

    So in the experiment with the letters, the subjects learned to associate the colour with the letter. Like how we all associate the colour orange with the flavour orange. But associating the colour red with the letter S is not the same as seeing the letter S as the colour red.

    I had those fridge magnets too. They were one of my favourite toys. But I don’t see letters as colours. I couldn’t even tell you what colour went with which letter.

    I do sort of “feel” that certain colours go with certain things sometimes. And it can upset me a little  when a colour is not right. I don’t know what you would call that, but it’s not Synaesthesia.

    I see countries like part of a map with labels. But I think that’s just because what they look like on a map is all I know about them. If I know what a place looks like, even a little, I picture it that way. Like when someone says “Kenya”, I see Mount Kilimanjaro. Even though it’s actually  in Tanzania. My maps aren’t very accurate either. I should draw one sometime with the countries where I see them, just for a laugh. I’m always learning something is not where I thought it was. But my brain seems to automatically go back to my version of the world afterwards.

    And I’m starting to babble now. Probably should have gone to bed like I was going to….

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