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10 Responses

  1. I want to be studied.

    My name is Rylie VanOrsdol and I am a 14 year old full time college student with a 4.0 GPA. I will graduate with my AA and enter my junior year at a university at age 15 in Fall 2014.

    I am so relieved and feel incredibly validated today after finding that I may be a synesthete. It would explain my entire life! Here is my story.

    When I was in early elementary school, I thought that everyone saw things the way I did. In fifth grade when I realized they didn’t, I went to my mother crying and very upset. She was startled. I was a very happy kid who didn’t have outbursts like that. She and I have a fantastic relationship and I can talk to her about anything.

    I asked her, scared and sobbing, “If there was something wrong with me, you would tell me, right?” She assured me she would but that I was more than fine. She tried to soothe me saying I was intelligent, friendly, etc. She was surprised by my questions because I had always been so secure and self confident. I continued, unsatisfied, “Do I have a disability that you are hiding from me? I feel like I am different and something is wrong with me.”

    I had reason, in my opinion, to be concerned. My half sister, who doesn’t live with us, is dyslexic and has a learning disability. My mother has Bi-Polar disorder managed by medications. I was sure there was something wrong with me mentally.

    Although I trusted my mom, I was terrified that if I told her what I was experiencing she might divulge it to her therapist and I would be taken away and put into a mental hospital or locked up in an asylum.

    I continued on through school not mentioning what I was experiencing but also trying to push it out of my brain or focus on something else. Some aspects seemed easier to control than others which I realized later just weren’t as strong. Occasionally I would express to my mom that I felt different than the other kids. After some research, she showed me some information about gifted children often feeling different from their peers. I fit in well at school. I was popular and voted into positions by my classmates.

    When I skipped high school to attend college, I began raising the “different sensations” in conversation with my parents. I had a new, stronger confidence from being successful in college at my young age and feIt if I let my secret out, things would be okay.

    Although my parents are both in the medical field, neither of them had ever heard of synesthesia. I started with mild comments like, “every number and letter I see has a color”. They laughed and dismissed it as a teenager being a teenager. I kept mentioning various things to see how odd I sounded. Finally one day, during a movie at home, I said something again and my mom said, “let me just google it really quick”. She typed in “can numbers have colors”. We were absolutely amazed by what we found. I am so thankful to see all of what goes on in my head right there in black in white! (pun intended) 🙂

    Here is a link at to an article I wrote and had published describing how and why I skipped high school and opted for college. I wish I had known about synesthesia when I wrote it.


    Rylie VanOrsdol
    (941)-704-1346 Mom – Julie VanOrsdol – Cell
    (941)-592-8012 My Cell
    Rylie VanOrsdol – Facebook
    6230 26 St. W.
    Bradenton, Fl. 34207

  2. Steve Matin

    Ever since 2nd grade, I have had the problem of dealing with mathematics.
    I was never able to add numbers in my head. Subtraction was a challenge but multiplication and division never was able to learn. Between 2nd and third grade other students seemed to learn multiplication and because of that they could divide. I never could. At almost 60yrs old I have always wondered why my brain would not learn math… I struggled through my college level math never really learning how it all worked. I got a “C”.

  3. benjamin hale

    Hello. My name is benjamin hale. I am 33 years old and I am a synesthete.
    I grew up with this condition and never really thought about it as different. I never brought it up and only became aware of the actual condition until a few years ago. I understand synesthesia is rare and worth studying. If I could offer my brain for study, feel free to contact me.

  4. to the attention of E. Hubbard – this is an invitation to view my work, specifically at http://www.gabrielnumbers.com/synesthesia.html – best regards, Gabriel

  5. Ivan Feuchtinger

    My name is Ivan. I am 8 years old. I love science and researches.

  6. Rich Van

    Ed Hubbard,

    I watched your talk (2013) on channel 21 the other night. You said some things that struck me as very insightful–for example, that people might have difficulty with fractions because of the way we represent and teach them. I’d guess the comment rolled off the back of most people but it stuck in my feathers. How you represent information changes everything–what you ask, how you process it, and the form of the answers it spits out.

    I’ve been developing a mathematical framework built around natural language descriptions to address problems that have an underlying quantitative basis. Each noun concept is representd through one of a high dimensional number of dimensions. The resulting coordinate system is rendered on a 2-D surface. The dimensionality is generally limited to <9 to respect the bounds of working memory.

    I've taught the interpretation of patterns and relationships in data and equations using this coordinate system to 6 kids aged 7-12 in less than 20 minutes. I then gave them graphs of several high dimensional non-linear equations and asked them to interpret them. They could do it as easily as I could! Somewhat astonished I would ask them how they can do this. The commonist response, hands on hips, was
    "It's easy!". They had no idea that no one on the planet can do this.

    I am extremely interested in why pre-algebra kids are so adept at this task. It seems that spatial reasoning applies to abstract conceptual spaces– both are described via language descriptions by stringing together phrases having the same noun-adverb-adjective form. I sometimes speculate that we start to learn this as toddlers when we sort wooden blocks by of similar color, shapes, and sizes–doesn't this happen before an effective grasp of language? The degree real-world objects are similar is an inherently multidimensional judgement.

    Description is central to how we encapsulate and disseminate many of the generalizations (or rules of thumb) that pass for knowledge. For example "People that experience chronic pain, are very depressed, and quite stressed are at an extremely high risk of suicide." is a statement that connects a region of pain-depression-stress space to a region of risk space. Such statements do not natually fall out of traditional statistical model equations-it takes a long time to think and talk like math.

    Your work, and that of others demonstrates that many areas of the brain are involved in quantiative assessments. All the computational steps involved at the neural level may remain too complex to understand when combined in their entirety. But at the right level of abstraction it is likely to be fairly simple (or we would lack the abilities we do). Using a simple math that thinks and talks like people do may be useful to
    you. Ping me back if you have any interest, I would find it facinating to talk to you.


  7. Linda Anderson

    My son Zac did the Gameapalooza week and we grabbed a flyer on the way out about Math and the Brain and it stated to contact you if he was interested in participating. He is 14, right handed and speaks native fluent English. I could not find the information on the website and assume it has not been posted yet? The one I am speaking of talks about investigating how the brain develops math and number skills. It is the one that uses an MRI scanner. My son wants me to contact someone regarding getting into the study.
    Thanks in advance for your reply.

  8. Soni Huffman

    I am searching for a researcher or educator that has worked with synesthesa. I started homeschooling my daughter 16 months ago after the local school was failing miserably. I discovered she had synesthesia while we were discussing characters in a book. Fortunately, I had learned about synesthesia in my educaional phychology courses. While I have read wonderful research on how her brain works, I have not found anyone with practical experience for a school age child. Do you have any contacts?

  9. Karen Brown

    I am writing to get help for my son who is a Senior at East High School here in Madison, WI. I ran across your article this weekend and now believe that has Dyscalculia and been undiagnosed even though he has an IEP and a case worker for most of his schooling since the 3rd grade.

    So many of the behaviors in various articles fit him to the T. Presently, he is struggling to keep his grades up enough to be accepted in college. He is struggling to pass the ACT math exam. He desperately wants to accept the soccer scholarship being offered by a small 4 year college but is very much on the borderline GPA wise.

    Cris has also suffered the consequences of ‘being stupid in math’ most of his life which affects his self esteem in all he does. We continue to go through periods of ‘just not trying anymore’ in any class so his grades are generally low. His pattern of doing well during the semester but knowing he will fail the final has certainly taken a toll on him and his ability to persevere.

    My excitement in reading your information has given me such hope again for my son. How do I get him tested, examined, seen by someone who can actually help. What are the steps to having this confirmed and getting the help he so desperately wants and needs?

    With renewed hope & excitement, Karen Brown (Mom of Cris Brown)

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