The Mysteries of Twin Communication
Twins come into the world at the same time, and go through the same developmental stages side by side, learning to crawl, walk, and talk together. Twins share many things, including birthdays, siblings, and parents. And in many instances, they also have a remarkable ability to communicate.
The Twin Bond
"My twin and I had some kind of a language all our own before we spoke English, and that is relatively common with twins," says Anthony Stern, MD, a psychiatrist at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, New York. "With twins, there is a real and remarkable closeness. Twins are emotionally very connected."
Most twins share a special bond that can be hard for non-twins to fathom. "Even when twins are of the opposite sex, this bond is there," says LeslieBeth Wish, Ed.D, MSS, LCSW and author of Smart Relationships: How Successful Women Can Find True Love. "In both fraternal and identical twins, there is a sense of 'oneness.'" You're rarely, if ever, alone growing up as a twin, Wish points out. "And spending every day together as you grow up strengthens the ability to read each other," she adds.
Twins often seem to know exactly how the other twin is thinking, finishing each other's sentences and maybe even dreaming the same dreams. "A sense of 'we' develops very early," Wish says. "Often, twins are more comfortable with each other than they are being alone or with others their age."
Identical twins—who comprise 10 to 20 percent of all twins, according to Richard Lipton, MD, of Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx—are more likely than fraternal twins to share a unique form of communication. When two people who look exactly alike are raised in the same environment, they tend to act similarly, Lipton says. They also tend to share the same feelings and elicit the same responses from others, and this makes it easier to communicate with each other without speaking.
This mysterious process is called a "brain mirroring" experience, Lipton says. "And since twins know how the other one is feeling, they may even have special hand gestures," he explains. "When one twin looks at the other and sees someone who looks and acts just as he does, he understands and empathizes with that person," Lipton says. "The ability of twins to communicate with each other in a language only they understand may develop simply because they have so many shared experiences."
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