Synesthesia - personal . plattsburgh . edu

Special Learning Disability
Denise Duquette
Fact Sheet Presentation
IDEA and Synesthesia
 No specific definition is given on the IDEA website in regards to Synesthesia.
Many researches are now saying that this is not put in a special learning
disability category although it does involve the sensory organs of the brain and
can be hereditary, accident induced or drug induced.
 According to the IDEA websites the Regulations followed to convey a special
learning disability are as follows:
1. Must not require the use of a severe discrepancy between intellectual ability
and achievement whether a child has a specific learning disability, as defined in
34 CFR 300.8 (c)(10);
2. Must permit the use of a process based on the child’s response to scientific,
research-based interventions;
3. May permit the use of other alternative research-based procedures for
determining whether a child has specific learning disability, as defined in 34
CFR 300.8 (c)(10).
(U.S. Department of Education, n.d.)
Synesthesia Defined
 “Synesthesia is a perceptual condition of mixed sensations: a
stimulus in one sensory modality (e.g. hearing) involuntarily elicits
a sensation/experience in another modality (e.g. vision)” (David
Eagleman, 2012).
 “synesthesia proper in which stimuli to a sensory input will also
trigger sensations in one or more other sensory modes”(Sean A.
Day, 2012).
 “synesthesia cognitive (category synesthesia) involves synesthetic
additions to culture-bound cognitive catergorizational systems
((Sean A. Day, 2012).
Types of Synesthesia
 Grapheme to Color Synesthesia: association of
letters/numbers to a particular color.
Sound to Color Synesthesia: association of a particular sound
to visualization of color(s).
Number Form Synesthesia: associated with a mental map of
Personification: associates order sequences with various
Lexical to Gustatory Synesthesia: associates taste with certain
 Over 60 forms of the condition have been reported
Characteristics of Synesthesia
 Irregular Sensory Experiences
 Consistent Reactionary Triggers
 Involuntary and automatic perception
 Simple and objective sensations
 There is no one standard test to perform. Many have been
tried but are not consistent as colors/numbers vary per
 Blood tests cannot distinguish who has synesthesia.
 Brain Scans do not detect synesthesia.
 The only way to know if someone has synesthesia is to go by
the patient’s report of their symptoms, which are
misdiagnosed or misunderstood.
Prevalence & Familiarity
 1 in 23 individuals in the general population hold some form
of synesthesia.
Tend to be very creative; many hold some form of career in
arts (which does include science).
Tend to be female.
Some researchers feel that babies are only born with one
sense and acquire the rest during neonatal stages they learn
the other senses which link to each other.
(Tiffany Ebner, n.d.)
Etiology of Synesthesia
 Developmental
According to Ferrinne Spector & Daphne Maurer (2009),
“synesthesia appears to represent one that typical developmental
mechanisms can play out by magnifying connections present in
early life that are pruned and/or inhibited during development
but persist in muted form in all adults. As such, the study of
synesthesia provides valuable insights into the nature of
intersensory development” (para. 1).
 Acquired
This particular type is associated with brain damage leading from a
stroke, tumor and/or accidental.
 Pharmacological
This happens when some particular drug has been introduced to
the body whether they are prescription or street drugs.
Senses involved with Synesthesia
Educational Approaches
 Synesthesia has many cognitive areas that are affected: perception,
attention, language, memory, emotion and consciousness.
Mnemonic techniques can be an additional way to help a student
who has Synesthesia cope with learning. By teaching these
techniques the student(s) will not feel that they have the
disorder/condition and feel more accepted with their classmates.
Number/color coding specific information within their notes.
Understanding the particular concept of Synesthesia is one way of
gaining the ability of what the student is going through.
Connect with the student(s) in order to find out what works best
for them, they may be able to help the other students in the
Educational Approaches
 Mnemonic techniques: (displaying these around the room can
help the students manage how to absorb the material in
regards to Synesthesia).
Rhyme Keys
Loci Method
Keyword Method
Image-name technique
Educational Approaches
 Number/color coding their notes
After knowing what type of synesthesia the student possesses
the teacher can sit down and help to code their notes with
their particular synesthesia.
Spending the extra time to understand and help the student
adjust will help them achieve a positive learning experience.
Educational Approaches
 Meeting with the student(s) teacher(s), parents and other
school resources to get a better understanding of how the
student(s) are progressing to see if additional help is needed
to accommodate the student(s) learning ability.
 Providing extra time for the student(s) to help them study
and learn the material.
 Creating teams within the classroom to implement other
techniques that may be helping to learning the material.
Learning and Synesthesia
 Visual vivid imagery
 Mental aid in learning
 Taste sounds
 See music
 Smell words
 Can have an affect on
everyday life depending on
certain situations including
friendships, relationships,
career, location, clothing and
other material objects
surrounding the person.
 Many people do not
understand synesthesia and
cannot relate to how things
are perceived.
Current Issues and Trends
Synesthesia is thought to be rare.
Synesthesia is thought to be genetic (dominant gene- x)
Females are more common
Thought to be intelligent.
Either left-handed or ambidextrous
Confuse left and right
No sense of direction
Good memory from visualizing colors to match material
15% have ADD/ADHD
More likely to have neurological abnormalities (dyslexia, perfectionist
traits, obsessive compulsive disorder, depression, autism, eidetic
memory, etc)
(Sarah, n.d.).
Brogaard, B. (n.d.) Synaesthesia Research Team (SRT). Retrieved from
Eagleman, D. (2012). The Synesthesia Battery. Retrieved from
Ebner, T. (n.d.). Synesthesia. Retrieved from
Gross, V. (n.d.). The Synesthesia Project. Retrieved from
Learning Standards for NLA. (2011). NewYork State Education Dept. Retrieved from
Naropa University. (n.d.). Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of
Colleges and
Schools. Retrieved from
Sarah. (n.d.). Synesthesia Index. Retrieved from
Spector, F. & Maurer, D. (2009). Synesthesia: a new approach to understanding the development of
perception. Developmental Psychology 45(1). pp. 175-189.
The Synesthesia Community. (n.d.). Synesthesia Test. Retrieved from
U.S. Department of Education. (n.d.). Identification of Specific Learning Disabilities. Retrieved from
Viklund, A. (n.d.). Neuroanthropology. Retrieved from

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