Parenting

Signs of Synesthesia in Children

Imagine experiencing a world where hearing certain words brought colors to your vision. Or looking at an object immediately gave you a particular taste in your mouth. Many people in the world experience life this way. This is the definition of synesthesia.

Considering how uncommon it is, you probably haven’t heard about synesthesia. Synesthesia is an interesting condition that combines the senses. The brain processes one sense as another. It results in a unique way of experiencing the world but is often dismissed or misunderstood.

Synesthesia seems to be more common in children than adults. However, many adults believe that children are making their experiences up because they have never heard of this condition. Read on to learn more about synesthesia as well as how to potentially detect it in your child.

What is Synesthesia?

Synesthesia is a condition where someone experiences one sense through another. For example, they may see colors when they hear certain words. Or they may be able to smell certain shapes or images.

It is not a disease or a disorder; it’s just an anomaly. It is estimated that about 1 to 4% of the population has synesthesia, but this is difficult to confirm as many people may have the condition but not realize it.

In most cases, the condition may be annoying or bring about some challenges, but rarely interferes dramatically in the person’s life. People with synesthesia just have a unique way of experiencing their senses.

If you’re interested in learning more about synesthesia in general, BetterHelp provides articles for further education. However, let’s move on to how synesthesia shows up in children.

Signs of Synesthesia in Children

Synesthesia is a condition more commonly associated with childhood. Though there are many adult synesthetes (another word for a person with synesthesia), there is evidence to suggest that many children synesthetes outgrow the condition.

Though research on this is still hazy, the truth is that this seems to be a relatively common experience in children. If you are interested in knowing whether your child may have synesthesia, look for the following signs.

Your Child Will Discuss It

Kids are typically very open about how they experience the world. Therefore, you may hear your child talking about their sensory connections.

For example, they may mention that they taste a particular fruit when they look at the television or associate the color green with the letter A. If they make these unusual associations often, then it is very likely they have synesthesia.

Sensory Overload

Unfortunately, children with synesthesia may become overwhelmed or confused due to sensory overload. For example, if seeing a chair creates multiple colors in their vision, living in a home with multiple chairs can be overwhelming.

Therefore, if your child becomes overwhelmed by a specific item or sound or something similar (especially if it seems random or doesn’t make sense to you), then there is a chance they may have synesthesia.

Consistent Associations Between Two Unrelated Items

Even if your child doesn’t explicitly discuss the condition, they may still develop strong associations between normally unrelated items. For example, they may associate clouds with blackberries because they can taste blackberries in their mouth every time they see a cloud in the sky.

What’s even more interesting is that these associations don’t usually fade with time. Studies on synesthesia have shown that children with synesthesia will keep these associations for years. Therefore, in a year from now, if you ask what your child associates with clouds, they will answer blackberries because they still have that sensory association.

Tips for Supporting Your Child With Synesthesia

Since not much is known about synesthesia, no specific treatments are available. And as of right now, there are no official tests to diagnose your child. Nevertheless, you can still do some things to support your child with synesthesia.

Believe Them

It’s easy to dismiss this condition as something a child would make up, but there is plenty of evidence that this condition is very real. If your child starts discussing their unique sensory connections, then listen to them. Ask questions and discuss the condition so that you can understand how they perceive the world.

Since synesthesia is rarely harmful or interfering, this condition can be quite fascinating. Talking to your child about how their senses work can be a great learning experience and show how unique your child is.

Reduce Potential Sensory Triggers

In most cases, children with synesthesia enjoy their unique way of experiencing the world. But sometimes, their senses can confuse or overwhelm them. If your child frequently becomes overwhelmed by specific triggers or senses, you may need to change your environment to reduce potential sensory overload.

Use Synesthesia to Help With Learning

If your child is struggling to learn a particular subject, you may be able to use their condition to their advantage. By associating the subject matter with a certain sense, you can help your child retain the information easier.

Let’s use an example of learning vocabulary or the alphabet. If your child associates letters with certain colors, you can put the words or letters on flashcards in the color they associate with the letters. This way, they may be able to learn these items quickly, as the two associations are put on the same card.

Educate Influential People In Your Child’s Life

Since this condition is relatively unknown, many people in your child’s life may not know about it or understand it fully. As a result, it’s very common for children with synesthesia to get bullied or have their experiences dismissed. This can further complicate or hamper their social and academic life.

Discuss the condition with your children’s teacher, family, and friends. Help them understand that your child simply has a unique way of experiencing the world and that they are not making this up. Ensure they understand that there is nothing wrong with your child, nor do they need to be changed in any way.

Bottom Line

Synesthesia is a fascinating condition that is still not fully understood. It comes up commonly in childhood due to the hyper-connectedness of the child’s brain. Though synesthesia is abnormal, it is not a disease or disorder. With love, support, and some environmental changes, your child will grow up normally but with a unique way of interacting with and experiencing the world.


Author Bio: Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health-related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with BetterHelp.com. With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.


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