Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Knowing that You Know: Synesthesia in Learning

It's not uncommon for children with sensory processing issues, including those students with Dyslexia, ADHD, Autism, SPD and PDD's, to struggle with certain aspects of learning. One of the reasons this may occur is that the student is unable to know when he has the correct answer. Regardless of how much the student studies for the test, he still finds himself essentially guessing on all or most of the questions. The phenomena behind this 'knowing' is called synesthesia--a fancy word that means, "The union of two different senses". For example, the sense of smell combined with sight. Or you see something and it evokes a smell. Or you hear a sound and you can see the sound in your mind. A popular book on the subject is, "The Man Who Tasted Shapes." So what does tasting shapes have to do with learning? Research has show that the way we, as human beings, know whether something is correct or incorrect, good or bad, right or wrong, moral or immoral, is NOT how it LOOKS or SOUNDS, but how it FEELS. So our access to effective recognition, i.e., "Knowing that we know", is our ability to FEEL the answer-- to FEEL what we see, hear or read. When a student is overloaded with sensory information or if he is blocking out sensory information, he may be unable to sense the subtle but important Feeling that would allow him to recognize whether an answer is correct or incorrect. To further complicate the issue, it seems that some students can only evoke an Auditory/Kinesthetic Synesthesia while others, are limited to a Visual/Kinestetic Synesthesia. These differences seem to correlate directly to a students preferred learning style. Fortunately, with proper training, virtually any student can learn to recognize and utilize the synesthesia appropriate to his learning style. More on Synesthesia and Learning at


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