About six months ago we learned that Sara has something called Synesthesia. Synesthesia is “a perceptual phenomenon in which stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in a second sensory or cognitive pathway.” In layman’s terms it means that two or more senses are “connected” so you can potentially SEE the color of music or associate smells to letters.
Synesthesia occurs in only 1% of the population – and that prevalence increases in the Autistic population to 4%. Sara has the most common type of Synesthesia which is Grapheme-Color Synesthesia. People with this type of Synesthesia associate a color to numbers, letters and words.
I began to get a sense that Sara had this ability when I helped her organize her work for school. She was very rigid about the colors we used for each day of the week and very particular about which highlighter colors to use to emphasize words etc. I performed a simple test that I found online to be sure: I wrote the numbers 0-10 randomly on a piece of paper (I did not tell her what I was doing) I asked her to tell me what color each number was to her. Then we did the same with the days of the week and family members names. Then I put the paper away and asked her again. What color is 3? And she had 100% accuracy with the previous answers. We tested 2 months later and again 100%. Here is a fun online quiz: https://synesthesia.com/#/Task/326.6666666666667/0/gateway-synesthesia-test-synaesthesia-test-quick-version/1011
Turns out that having synesthesia is the result of poor synaptic pruning. I recently found an article that explains this well: https://msilvertant.quora.com/Synaptic-growth-synesthesia-savant-abilities
And here is a video that explains the importance of synaptic pruning on brain development. This is a GREAT video – and really explained to me the science behind how Sara (and other kids) end up with Sensory Processing Disorder, Central Auditory Processing Disorder and Visual Processing Disorders – just to name a few.
What is REALLY interesting to me – is that The Nemechek Protocol works because it enables the brain to resume/repair faulty synaptic pruning. In Sara’s case after being on the protocol for only a few months she no longer had sensory processing disorder. It was her most pervasive issue and one I never expected for her to ever fully recover from. But, at this point she would no longer meet the criteria for the diagnosis.
Which makes me wonder….will she also lose her synesthesia?
Will her brain continue to repair and prune and as a result “un-connect” her joined senses? Or after 13 years has she strengthened that connection to a point where it is now set in stone? Only time will tell. But, in the meantime I have tucked away her answer sheet and will retest her in a few months to see. Will keep you posted! 🙂