AUTISM FACT: Most people think of there being five senses – sight, sound, touch, taste and smell – but there are actually seven – the final two are balance ('vestibular') and body awareness ('proprioception'). People with an ASD can be over-sensitive ('hypersensitive') or under-sensitive (‘hyposensitive') in any or all of these senses.
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Our senses define everything about where we are in life and how we relate to it all. Even when some might say the signals they send to us are a little bit scrambled, each one of us makes it work out.
Take Synaesthesia for instance.
Synaesthesia is a fascinating condition, and has many variables. At least ten forms are known, the most common being Chromesthesia where a sound is perceived as a colour, and Grapheme-Colour Synaesthesia where numbers and each letter of the alphabet are seen as a colour.
The human brain is a pretty amazing computer, and even when faced with tangled signals, it manages to make its own kind of sense of the information. So much so that a lot of Synaesthetes don't see their condition as an affliction, but a gift that can enhance their lives. Nor is Synaesthesia a modern phenomenon. A while ago, I saw an article about the great Vincent Van Gogh, showing that it was highly probable that he was a Synaesthete in the
Chromesthesia category. He sent a letter to his brother Theo, and in it, the way he describes seeing colours as sounds in such a matter-of-fact way, clearly shows he was comfortable with the phenomenon:
[The italics are mine]: "Some time ago you rightly said that every colourist has his own characteristic scale of colours. This is also the case with Black and White (sic), it is the same after all — one must be able to go from the highest light to the deepest shadow, and this with only a few simple ingredients. Some artists have a nervous hand at drawing, which gives their technique something of the sound peculiar to a violin, for instance, Lemud, Daumier, Lançon — others, for example, Gavarni and Bodmer, remind one more of piano playing. Do you feel this too? Millet is perhaps a stately organ."
I haven't discovered Theo's reply, and I have to wonder if he had the same wiring in his brain...
In Aloes, my main character, Perry, is a Synaesthete. Unlike Vincent and others, he developed Synaesthesia after a freak accident. His is a version of the more rare Lexical-Gustatory Synaesthesia, but with a paranormal twist. Normally, Synaesthetes with that form experience a particular word as a taste or a smell. In Perry's case, he can taste the intent behind the word, whether it is a lie or a truth.
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