Synesthesia

(Supplementary to Chapter 4, Body and Soul, in Autism Spectrum Disorder in the Inclusive Classroom, 2nd Edition: How to Reach and Teach Students With ASDs)


More About Synesthesia

Synesthesia is the perceptual joining together of sensations that are typically perceived separately. People who experience synesthesia may see sounds, hear colors, taste shapes, smell textures, feel music, and more.

Because of its uniquely evocative qualities, synasthesia is often used as a literary device. In Shakespeare’s “Hamlet,” perhaps for the first time in literature, the weather is referred to as “bitter cold,” melding the reader’s notion of “bitter”—a sharp, unpleasant taste—with the tactile experience of temperature. In his poem “The Wild Flower’s Song,” William Blake writes, “As I wandr’d the forest…I heard a wild flower/Singing a song.” Georgia O’Keeffe gives us a way of seeing music in her painting “Music—Pink and Blue.” But these literary references represent mere impersonations of real synesthesia. (In fact, the artists who created them are sometimes known as pseudo-synesthetes.) Compare their depictions to the actual synesthesia described by Daniel Tammet in his book Born On A Blue Day: Inside the Extraordinary Mind of an Autistic Savant.


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