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On Sunday, I took my reporter's kit to Arlington to interview Ann Kennedy, a grapheme-color synesthete. Synesthesia is a medical condition in which a person's senses are crossed rather than separate from each other, so that they may taste colors, feel music, or smell sounds. The experiences aren't limited to the traditional "senses." Every time Ann sees a number or letter of the alphabet, it appears in her mind's eye as a specific, unchanging color. Some doctors see this as a syndrome. Ann sees it as a gift.
To illustrate what her mind sees, she took out a box of colored pencils and a pad of paper. Before I arrived, she had written my name not once but twice - the second time to get the color "right." The "d" in particular had been giving her trouble. The second one, she explained, was much more like "her" d.
Synesthetes on average have four different types of synesthesia, although some may be stronger than others. Ann insists that she's only a mild synesthete.
But as she and I conversed outside, a long, textured birdsong erupted from overhead, and she grinned, locking my eyes: "Silver!"
-Adeline Goss, Executive Producer of Intern Edition