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Understanding Life with Synaesthesia

colourful powders together

Put simply, Synaesthesia is a condition where your senses ‘leak’ into each other. This blog gives the perspective of a person who has Synaesthesia. 

What are the different types of Synaesthesia?

  • Colours and patterns (shapes, distinctive colours). Someone may have a certain colour for a certain letter. For example, A = Red and B = Green. Each person with synaesthesia won’t always have the same colour for each letter of the alphabet.
  • Taste and smell – it is known that words can trigger different colours, tastes, shapes, textures, and temperatures.
  • Touch and other body sensations – for example, different emotions and physical feelings can trigger different visions of colour.

To give a more depth of an explanation, we spoke with a member of staff to describe their experience with synaesthesia.

I first noticed it at primary school when we learnt the days of the weeks and the names of the months. Every name had a clear colour in my mind which has stuck for life. The colours never change and I can’t find a reason why a particular name has a particular colour!

So Monday is dirty grey, Tuesday bright green, Wednesday smooth, light brown, Thursday bright yellow, Friday thick chocolate brown, Saturday pure white, Sunday navy blue.

As for the months in the year, these are the colours which relate to some: January is pale blue; February brown; March almost black; April yellow; June pale blue; September red; November dark blue…

There are colours for everyone’s names too – forever.

Sometimes you even get a texture, so Brenda is orange and very fluffy.

I’m a very good mathematician but it’s hard to explain how I work out answers as they are all colours and patterns. As I’m calculating, the numbers are coloured and in my mind’s eye they are forming perfect patterns, filling the gaps, keeping their colours and so on. As a result, I will often know I’m close to the answer because the pattern is almost complete but I can’t begin to explain how I know!

The best thing is music, which has always been my passion and release (although I can’t play a note!)

As I’m listening, colours form in my head, swirling and changing. I put on headphones and I’m away! I can still see normally but my heads full of the colours.

If you would like to hear more information or advice about this condition, please visit the NHS page for Synaesthesia.

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