Sunday, September 30, 2012

Do I Know You? ~This Aspie's Experience with Face Blindness.

I can feel him casually glancing in my direction. I make a point to look away and not  make eye contact, because I don't feel like having polite conversation at the pool with strange men I don't know.  Eventually, we cross paths and he asks me how I am. I can tell by his demeanor that he's not a stranger. He is someone I've met before and should be acquainted with. I search the pool to see if I recognize his children. I'm looking for any clues that can help me here, but none come. I just make small talk and try to figure it out later. It turns out to be one of my daughter's friend's parents. I've spoken to him in the last couple of weeks. I should know who he is.

The above scenario is probably something that has happened to most people before at some point, but for me (and many others on the spectrum) it happens often. There is a phenomenon called face blindness or Prosopagnosia.  I am unsure if I fit the criteria for this diagnosis. I took the face blindness test of famous faces and scored 93%. That is above average. I have no trouble identifying faces of famous people, even those I have not seen in 20 some years. My memory is quite good in that way. However, when social interaction in everyday life is introduced to the scenario I seem to lose the ability to identify acquaintances.

As you can imagine, this is troublesome. If I run into someone, say at the store it is very likely that I will not recognize them. I live in a small town, so it is certain to happen often, just based on the statistics alone.  So, maybe you are one of the son's paras, the secretary at the school, or the bank teller, the principal that I've sat through 10+ IEP meetings with, or my neighbors.... I will walk past you as if I've never met you, unless you make the first move.  I'm certain that this doesn't help my social life, as I know that I come off as snobby. It has to be terribly confusing to others, especially the ones that I warmly chat with on a regular basis to suddenly find me oblivious to them in another environment.

I wonder if Beans has this issue, too. He always smells people upon greeting them.He reaches out and grabs your clothes, and hair and sniffs.  I think he may be trying to identify who you are by your scent.

If you took the test, feel free to leave your score in the comment section, as well as any experience you may have with this issue, either with yourself, or your ASD loved one.