LDT – Exploring synesthesia’s relationship with autism

Learning Disability Today – News
03 May 2018
Imagine seeing and tasting a favourite song as well as being drawn to its familiar melody. This is how those with synesthesia — a condition where the senses are joined — can experience the world. Darren Devine reports.
To James Wannerton my name, Darren, conjures the flavours of tinned carrots and I use lots of words, like ‘say’ and ‘said’, that taste ‘bacony’.
“Psychologists at Sussex and Cambridge universities showed both people with autism and those with synesthesia experience heightened sensory difficulties. Common to both groups were problems with sounds and lights and a heightened ability to focus on details.”

Wannerton not only hears, but tastes sound. His condition, synesthesia, is woven into every aspect of his life — even down to choosing his partners by how delicious their names taste on his tongue.

For Wannerton the name of his current beau, Anna Krämer, is rich with the flavours of ham with a “nice creamy sauce over the top”.

He said: “Synesthesia has always played a part in my private life. All my friends at school, for example, have got nice tasting names.”

Wannerton added: “Girlfriends, for example, always used to have nice tasting names, otherwise I wouldn’t be interested. It was a massive part of the attraction.”

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