Thursday, October 18, 2012

Grapheme-Color Synesthesia Map

This week I've been doing a lot of thinking about synesthesia, thanks to a video, My Autism and Me. Some stray tweets led to interesting conversations on Twitter and email. Dr. Joe Spataro did a blog post, in which I sum up my synesthesia story in brief.

I have tons of thoughts on this topic, as well as tons of memories and my own story of realizing my rare skill at a young age, before I even knew the word "synesthesia", and before modern science had caught up to the idea of the grapheme-color type, where letters and numbers have color. Eventually, I may put some of those thoughts and stories in this blog.

For now, I've taken the time to map my colors for you. This is a mini-meme going around on DeviantArt and other circles on the internet. The template is made available by a Deviant Artist, Crowbar. Hat tip to my daughter Betsey for pointing me in this direction.

This is part of me. A very deep part of who I am and how my brain works. I love the wonderful colors I "see" every day in the words I read, in license plates, on signs, in phone numbers. I am an associator, which means I visualize the letters in color in my mind. The colors almost seem to pop out at me from the page - but stop just short of being real.

Inside? They are more real than real.

Welcome to my world.

I can't tell you how satisfying it is to look at the page and physically see how the letters should be. How they are meant to be. Not these black pretenders everywhere... I can see into your hearts, all of you, and these are your true colors.

I agonized to get these just right. Some of these letters I didn't get just right, and they're glaring at me. (Shut it, "B", you came early on before I'd figured out the software, and the tan shades are the hardest to find in the color tool!)

Note that none of my letters actually have a black border. I would prefer removing them, but that would require more graphics skills than I have. :) Lowercase letters are the same color as uppercase, though some are slightly different shades.

I shaded some of the letters to help show the motion they have. These are the letters that roam about, swirling or morphing through these particular shades. A few will change a lot. "I" is the hardest to pin down, since it can be a still solid white, gray, or bluish-grayish-morphy-whatever.

All of my letters will influence one another when they sit next to each other in words. That's when things get really interesting. Someday I may get creative and try to show you. I'd also love to show you my symbols like * and ~.

If you believe you may be a synesthete, please do a science. Take the surveys at, and the full battery at


  1. Love this and the fact that you say letters/colors are hard to pin down - they are! when people ask what color is a letter; sometimes it's hard cause they are full of swirls and light and movement...thanks!

  2. Synesthesia is awesome! I have it too!!!! :)