The boy who knew too much: a child prodigy

This is the true story of scientific child prodigy, and former baby genius, Ainan Celeste Cawley, written by his father. It is the true story, too, of his gifted brothers and of all the Cawley family. I write also of child prodigy and genius in general: what it is, and how it is so often neglected in the modern world. As a society, we so often fail those we should most hope to see succeed: our gifted children and the gifted adults they become. Site Copyright: Valentine Cawley, 2006 +

Thursday, January 13, 2011

A synaesthetic family.

Yesterday, was a revelation, where Tiarnan, four, was concerned.

We all sat in the dining room, for lunch – well, most of us.

Tiarnan suddenly looked up from the table and said: “Fintan is back.”

“How do you know?”, asked his mother.

“I can see the sound of the bus.”, Tiarnan replied enigmatically.

I knew, then, what he meant, at once. Tiarnan was revealing that he, too, was a synaesthete, like his elder brother, Ainan. His choice of the word “see”, rather than “hear”, was not a youthful accident, but deliberate choice. Tiarnan was seeing the sound.

“You are confused.”, said, Syahidah, confusing him.

Tiarnan frowned. “I hear the bus.”, he said, seemingly unhappy with the choice of words.

“Don’t do that, Syahidah…you are confusing him. He sees the sound of the bus…he is a synaesthete.”

I was reminded, then, of the first time Tiarnan had hinted that he might be a synaesthete. He had been in my bathroom, at night, when I had turned on the radio in the bedroom beyond. Suddenly, I heard his excited voice: “I can see the music!”, he had exclaimed. He then ran into the room, repeating himself: “I see the music!”. That was, perhaps, six months ago, and he hadn’t mentioned his perceptions since.

Later on, yesterday, after dinner, I questioned Tiarnan a little to confirm what I now thought to be the case.

He was banging a spoon against a plate.

“What do you see?”, I asked.

My expectation that he would see something, not hear it, seemed to open him up to discussing it.
“I see a flying colour.”, he explained, seriously.

“Which one?”

“That one!”, he said pointing at the tablecloth, which had many colours on it. It wasn’t clear which he was referring to.

Then, I took the spoon and hit it gently against the plate.

“What colour do you see?”

“Gold.”, he said, “gold.”

I needed no further confirmation. Tiarnan is a musical synaesthete, one experiencing sounds as colours. Does he have any other forms of synaesthesia? Perhaps so. His eldest brother, Ainan has several types. I will just have to observe Tiarnan closely in the coming months and years, to work out just what kind of perceptions he has.

(If you would like to support my continued writing of this blog and my ongoing campaign to raise awareness about giftedness and all issues pertaining to it, please donate, by clicking on the gold button to the left of the page. To read about my fundraising campaign, please go to:
and here:

To learn more of Ainan Celeste Cawley, 10, or his gifted brothers, Fintan, 7 and Tiarnan, 4, this month, please go to:

I also write of gifted education, child prodigy, child genius, adult genius, savant, megasavant, HELP University College, the Irish, the Malays, Singapore, Malaysia, IQ, intelligence and creativity.

There is a review of my blog, on the respected The Kindle Report here:

Please have a read, if you would like a critic's view of this blog. Thanks.

You can get my blog on your Kindle, for easy reading, wherever you are, by going to:

Please let all your fellow Kindlers know about my blog availability - and if you know my blog well enough, please be so kind as to write a thoughtful review of what you like about it. Thanks.

My Internet Movie Database listing is at:

Ainan's IMDB listing is at

Syahidah's IMDB listing is at

Our editing, proofreading and copywriting company, Genghis Can, is at

This blog is copyright Valentine Cawley. Unauthorized duplication is prohibited. Use only with permission. Thank you.)

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button
posted by Valentine Cawley @ 5:53 PM 


Blogger Casandra said...

It's wonderful how excited he was at being able to hear the music. It's nice to know that he is going to grow up in a family where he will be supported and understood.

6:23 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Yes. It is fortunate for both Tiarnan and Ainan that I am familiar with synaesthesia and know what a child means when they say certain things, or indicate that they see things that others do not, when experiencing things. Some parents might think that there was something "wrong" with their child, not understanding that actually synaesthesia can be an advantage.

You are a synaesthete too, aren't you? Have you been accepted?

10:02 AM  
Blogger Casandra said...

I'm not sure if it is synaesthesia, or if it is, it's a mild form. I taste some sounds and I associate colors with sounds, I look at a painting and they "sound right" or "wrong" to me. Other times when I think of a situation I smell specific things. I've never been tested, though.

8:10 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

You sound like an associator synaesthete, and less of a projector, like my sons. An associator associates things together, one sensation with another, a projector actually experiences the synaesthetic response, out in the world, as if it were really there, in front of them or wherever. So, your version is not so much "mild" as a different type I think.

Best wishes

10:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting sense, do you think its possible that in the future if the futurists are right, and we merge with machines, then the senses can be even more refined and combined together into something extremely advanced? Futurist keep saying the computer will outperform the human mind by 20 or 30 years, which in turn will evolve by its own evolutionary programs into smarter beings than they were initially. Then they say humans are going to be ants as compared to these super intelligent machines, what are your thoughts?

10:57 PM  
Blogger Casandra said...

I wrote an entry about my experiences with links to your blog and the paper you wrote about synaesthesia, I hope you don't mind. I can remove them if you don't want them there.

2:54 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Dear Casandra,

Thank you for letting me know. Don't worry, I am sure it will be fine. In fact, thanks for writing about my work. I will try to take a look at your blog later to see what your thoughts were.

Best wishes.

5:00 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Dear Casandra,

Thank you for letting me know. Don't worry, I am sure it will be fine. In fact, thanks for writing about my work. I will try to take a look at your blog later to see what your thoughts were.

Best wishes.

5:01 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape