Autism-Related Articles, Books, Services

Friday, April 11, 2008

Synethesia: Strange Confluence of Sight, Sound, and Mind

This is just so freaky and amazing, I have to share it.

After reading a few lines in a book about something called synethesia, I got interested. Apparently, quite a few people have an odd brain wiring such that letters, numbers, and/or musical notes are linked with colors. When they see a letter or number, and/or hear a musical note, they "see" a particular color in their minds.

Apparently, this odd quality is particularly common among people with autism.

On a whim, I asked Tom if he sees colors when he plays notes on the piano. Oh, yes, he said, he does!


I drew a series of dots in the colors he gave me, and aked him to play them on the piano. He played Frere Jacques flawlessly.

I looked up synethesia, and found that there's a close link between synesthesia relative to music - and perfect pitch.

It wasn't until today that I realized something else: the series of colors Tommy gave me is consistent with the achronym ROY G BIV. For anyone who's studied optics or astronomy, that acronym will be familiar: it's the colors of the optical spectrum, the order they appear in a prism, or in a rainbow. The only "off" color was pink - and that's because the correct color is "indigo."

Tommy has never heard the word "indigo."

Does anyone know anything more about this amazing collection of coincidences? I've emailed a couple of researchers in the field of synesthesia, but nothing so far!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Making Model Railway Trees from "Old Man's Beard"

This is an absolutely amazing technique that Tommy and my husband, Peter, developed for making trees for a model railway. It helps, of course, that we live on Cape Cod - where the moss called "Old Man's Beard" is everywhere. But if you have a similar moss available, you've got to give this technique a try.

You need:

  1. twigs

  2. plenty of Old Man's Beard Moss

  3. glue

  4. hammer and nail

  5. base in which to stand your trees (we have a papier mache mountain, part of our model railway)
Here's what you do:

  1. dip the twig in glue

  2. glue a tuft of moss to the twig

  3. allow to dry

  4. use nail and hammer to punch a hole in your base (of course, if the base is cardboard you won't need the hammer)

  5. Put the twig into the hole

  6. Put a little more glue around the outside of the hole

You're done!

Here are pix: