Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Synesthesia Strikes Again

It is very important that we homeschoolers teach our children how to communicate.  Communication is vital  for survival in this world.  Communication involves wording your ideas in such a way that other people understand them, in addition to receiving information from other people in the way they meant for you to understand it.  Communication involves both speaking (or writing, or art, or music, etc) and listening (or watching or reading, as the case may be.)  Obviously, it really helps if both parties are literally speaking the same language.

For the most part we do very well here in the communication department.  I am especially pleased with the way our girls have learned to write, effectively putting down on paper what is in their hearts and minds. And other than Alison mumbling to herself in Hebrew, which none of the rest of us understand, I think we do pretty well with speaking.

However there is one area in which we are experiencing the big fail.  

You know how it is when you ask a woman where it hurts. She will give you a detailed description of a pain. It burns or stabs or it feels like electricity, or there's stiffness.  She will tell you where it's located -- down her upper arm or leg, behind her eyes, or just to the left of her belly button.  This type of communication is complete.  The woman explains the pain, and the listener, presumably her doctor, understands it and knows what to do about it.

With men this isn't so.  Men will just say it hurts. "Where does it hurt?"  "Moannn. I don't know, it just hurts!  Am I dying?..."  (This is sort of related to the insidious "Man Cold".)  This type of communication does not help you to know how to treat the thing that is ailing your man.  It is one-sided.  The idea is being transmitted, but it is not being received clearly.  The communication is incomplete.

And then there's my Amy and Elisabeth, who also describe their pains with incomplete communication, in colors and shapes.  How is a mother to interpret this??

"My stomach doesn't feel good.  It's a gray-blue cube."

"My chest feels funny.  It's a light brown strip, about two inches wide, with a sandpapery surface.  It runs vertically and has a light blue border."

Blue mouthwash leaves a yellowish aftertaste.

Cuts are red, bruises are yellow, and a dull ache is blue-gray.  

Elisabeth was certain that everyone "sees" their pains.  She and her sisters were flabbergasted to know that this is not so with the general population.  

So.  How do I learn THIS language?  What ever will we do when "a green and black oozing blob with knives" turns out to be acute appendicitis?  What is "dark red with silvery jagged edges"? Is that a migraine?  Truly we have a communication breakdown!

This must be another manifestation of their synesthesia.  Weird stuff, that.


  1. I think that's fascinating that they describe their pain that way. Do they see numbers in particular colors? I'm not being funny - I have heard that some people do. Like if they visualize 7 it will be blue, 0 is orange... and things like that. 6 is green (okay - I sort of see numbers in colors...)

    but pain... how descriptive.

    and men... yeah, not much to go on with them.

    1. Yes, Brownie, they do "see" numbers and letters in colors, along with the months, days of the week, etc. And sounds have shapes. The sound of the phone ringing is a repetitive gold loop-de-loop. :) All four of my girls do this, and it is so weird! I don't know where they get it. My husband and I sure don't have it.

  2. Once you have it all deciphered, you will have to write a book or dictionary...maybe even a medical journal on it -- you'll be famous. Can I have your autograph?


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