Prosopagnosia Research at Bournemouth University

Prosopagnosia Discussion Board


Posted By Dr Sarah Bate on 4th Feb 2013 at 10:21

How can we spot faceblindness in children? Can you reflect on your own experiences of faceblindness to suggest any symptoms or behaviours that may be useful indicators of the condition?

Posted By Sarah on 26th Jun 2020 at 5:09

I didn’t realize i had prosopagnosia until well into adulthood, but my mom remembers that as a very small child (age 1.5) I was very upset when she got a new haircut. I also distinctly remember around age 4-6 that I really disliked it when she wore earrings, because i felt like she didn’t look like herself anymore.

Posted By Anonymous on 2nd Mar 2020 at 17:45

Unlike others, I had no problem recognising my classmates because I saw them often (long school hours), so I managed to recognise them by their voice, vocabulary, interests, race, special features... it only took a few weeks. It was harder at first and it took me longer than others, but I managed to do it in the end! I'm lucky, that's because I tend to focus on details. For instance, when I was still in school, I recognised one of my classmates from her very dramatic gait. (she used to do music and theatre, quite the artistic type) She was amused, actually: funnily enough, nobody else had noticed her gait! It's usually harder to describe someone you don't see very often. When I was a child, I used to do extracurricular sport only once a week and I would not have managed to recognise anyone in my club in another context. I have head that some children with prosopagnosia tend to cling to their parents in public areas. Others don't recognise their parents when they're picked up from school, but this can vary. In any case, it tends to be quite obvious. I never realised it because I thought everyone else was like that! My therapists never really realised there was a problem, but I don't blame it on them. There was practically no awareness, so it's not really their fault. Yet, looking back on it, it's possible to notice many hints.

Posted By Chris on 9th Sep 2016 at 10:58

Can they follow films/visual dramas? When reading, do they imagine the faces of the characters? I visualise landscapes and settings in books, and the shapes and clothing of people, but never their faces - even when they are described at length. If I later see a visual representation of a fictional character (from a book or a radio drama), I might think "that's not how I imagined them" because of age, race, hair or body shape, but never because of face. Ask children about how human fictional characters from books or radio look. Out of inbterest - do any other faceblind people on this forum imagine fictional faces? If you are creating a fictional character, do you have an internal picture of what their faces look like?

Posted By Unknown on 8th Jul 2016 at 17:42

Hi Everyone, I am a children's writer and am currently researching prosopagnosia for a book I am writing for the 11+ age group. I wondered if anyone would be interested in being interviewed over the phone or by email, after the summer break, about experiences with the condition as a child, as I am really keen to accurately reflect the condition in my writing? It would also be fantastic if there are any readers out there who would be interested in reading drafts as I progress, and perhaps provide me with some feedback? I am represented by The Darley Anderson Children's Book Agency (as yet unpublished) and my agent agrees that a book about this topic is very current and as far as she is aware, hasn't been written about for this age group before. If you are interested, I'd be really grateful if you could contact me at [email protected] Best wishes, Ann-Marie

Posted By Irene on 1st Jul 2016 at 13:39

When I was at school, my friend group was populated by the extremes. My best friend had the biggest nose, there was another with buck teeth, the shortest, the tallest, the fattest, the curliest hair, the most freckles, the one who walks funny (she had mild cerebral palsy). Basically everyone who I could pick out after a week or so of scrutinising 33 strangers in identical school uniform. So if your child hangs around with a bunch of people who are at the extremes of a particular feature, that'd be a giveaway.

Posted By Renae on 15th Aug 2015 at 20:45

Thought of another... Doesn't know who's who in TV shows and movies when the actors are all pretty skinny blondes or tall dark and handsome men. If the child gets the characters confused and asks questions about the storyline or comments that the story doesn't make sense.

Posted By Renae on 15th Aug 2015 at 19:58

I genuinely thought my swimming and dancing teachers was a different person each time - so if your child asks you why a person keeps changing, that's a clue. If your approaching class and they ask why theirs a different teacher in the room. If they don't know who most of their classmates are, it surprised me to learn as an adult that others knew every person in their class/year or even the entire school. You run into someone and the child acts differently to how they would if they were expecting to see that person. They don't people by name, particularly kids in their class at school. They aren't consistent about who they choose to play with at school at an age they should be developing friendships (because they don't know who they were playing with yesterday, they are just picking randomly). They don't like it when seating gets changed around (remembers names by where they sit). I think my initial comment might be the easiest thing to educate people to look out for, a child who always thinks people are new. If your child comments about always having new kids/teachers/checkout lady/bus driver, and it's actually the same person. The next is names, a child who rarely calls anyone by name.

Posted By Heather on 1st Jun 2014 at 1:52

Hello--new here. I've become convinced that I am prosopagnosic, and I strongly suspect my 10-year-old son is. I'm interested in the comment about getting lost in plain sight. This happened to my son from a very early age--those are among my most frequently told stories about him. Very recently, it happened at a beach. My husband was watching him and his older brother, while I played with our youngest son. At some point, my husband asked me to take over watching our oldest. The 10-year-old had lost track of us and headed in the wrong direction and was quickly moving away from us. He had been only a few feet from his older brother when he became lost. It was a crowded beach and within moments he was so far away my husband had to run to catch up to him. When he finally did, he took our son's arm and the son looked up at my husband without any clear sign of recognition or relief. I would not be surprised to hear that "getting lost in plain sight" is a common sign of prosopagnosia in children. We homeschool, so he has not had the experience of "always the first day of school," but I am going to begin watching for these other signs. How does he describe his friends? Does he gravitate to people with something unusual in their appearance (I always did as a child)? He has the benefit, when we have friends over, that he knows they are coming so he has contextual clues that I'm sure are helpful. I wonder if he would recognize his friends when met unexpectedly and in an unusual context? Glad to have found this group. Interested in learning more...

Posted By Unknown on 10th Mar 2014 at 3:00

I've recently concluded 6yo DS has some form of prosopagnosia. I always thought it was unusual when, in preschool, he'd identify his friends by their shoes. When we went to a play place, he'd say, "I think X is here, there are their shoes!" He thinks he sees his teacher when he sees a man with dark hair and a striped shirt. One day I wore something I normally don't and he didn't recognize me. But the biggest flag was when he came in the house talking about the strange kid he was playing with outside and when I looked, it was the neighbor kid he's been playing with for the past two years. DS said he didn't recognize him because he was wearing different shoes. Googling led me to "face blindness" and "prosopagnosia". I'm now at the point where I'm going to tell it to DS' dad /my ex and my family. I'm not sure if I should tell his school. I'd appreciate people looking out for him, but I don't want him stigmatized or kids making fun of him and taunting him to recognize them.

Posted By Anonymous on 4th Mar 2014 at 0:16

I don't know if our child has faceblindness or not, but I am suspecting. He has been diagnosed with mild to moderate autism under DSM-V, and he has a neurotypical twin sister. So far, things from him that seem like maybe being face blind: * First months - zero eye contact. We first questioned autism then but were told that boys develop eye contact slower than girls (we later learned that that is not true and likely that was our first sign of autism) * Age 2. He'd see a child wearing a yellow shirt and running down the street. He'd say "there goes the yellow", as if there were no child with the shirt. Yet he could speak in full sentences since his 2nd birthday. Brief period of echolalia. * Age 2. He realizes that his has a name separate from his twin. Before their 2nd birthday, the twins would refer to each other with the name of the female neurotypical twin. * Age 3. He was in a French preschool and he'd say the black boy and the blue boy were yelling at and shoving him on the playground. Obviously when we heard black, we thought he was talking about race (he's white) but when he said blue, we realized he's once again talking about the color of their shirts and no other identifying characteristics * Age 3.5 - we start to hear the names of a couple of his classmates but only in terms of how many times they have come to sit near him and maybe something that child has done but not much interaction/communication. He still prefers solitary play except with his twin sister. * Age 3.5 - he is able to recount in detail a picnic he went to about 7.5 months ago - details about what he ate, how many people sat beside and across from him, and various details of what happened that day but not anything about any of the people * Age 3.5 - their father ended up being away for 1.5 months due to visa re-entry issues. After that got resolved, we decided he should surprise the twins. Mama was away at a conference. Dada happened to arrive home at the same time that the sitter was walking the twins out on the street in the neighborhood so the twins unexpectedly saw their much-beloved Dada (after being away for 1.5 months) on the street. Our daughter laughs and says "That's Dada!", but our son apparently did not react much which Dada interpreted as possibly due to his tendency to be what we believe is a pattern of sensory under-responsivity but now we question if he recognized his father or not * Age 3.5 - sometimes he'll refer to me as "that mama in the kitchen" instead of Mama. We're not sure if that's anything but again, a bit odd. * Age 3.5 - he spent his 3rd birthday with our friend G. He came back to visit when the twins were 3.5. I told them a surprise guest was coming. Our son did not recognize G but as soon as we said G's name, he remembered exactly where he had last seen G and began to recount other detailed visual imagery of that day. I realized he has associated G's name with that day, not a visual image of G and maybe that's why he didn't recognize him? His twin sister does not do these things so I don't think it's typical. I'm not sure if these things above are due to prosopagnosia or autism?

Posted By Anonymous on 12th Jun 2013 at 16:29

I spent this school year working with Kindergarten aged children. Some were as young as early-5s, most were middle or late 5-s, and some were early 6s. (Years old. I hope you knew what I meant.) Anyway.... some children CLEARLY have odd characteristics. One child I noted in the classroom NEVER played with others. The child NEVER called any one by name. The child rarely spoke to other children, would prefer to only talk to adults. The child always ate lunch alone. The classroom teachers, regular and itinerant, were suspecting autism. I agree that aspects of it did look like autism. But one day I thought "What if this kid simply cannot remember who's who?" Yes, like it's Always "the first day of school", even when the school year is in full swing or nearly done? Of course such a child would gravitate to the adults. They're easy to spot! So, I think it's TRULY critically important that we as a society figure out how to spot prosopagnosia in young children, early, reliably, and quickly. Suppose a child who's labeled as autistic is really only separate from society because of an inability to recognize people? Certainly the treatment would be wrong and perhaps completely ineffective, even perhaps potentially damaging! But if the child's only real problem is prospagnosia, then perhaps early intervention and early treatment could help a child develop friendships easily like normal children do. Now that I've spent time in a classroom with really young children, I see that it's vitally important that this phenomenon be diagnosed as young as possible. How? I don't know. But I hope you do!

Posted By Christine on 3rd May 2013 at 19:52

What wonderfully helpful posts! My son is now 16 and has had this condition since birth. How do I know this? He would scream and act like I was a complete stranger if I tried to get him from his crib with my hair in a towel. Take the towel off and he stopped instantly. When he was 6, I had my long hair cut short. He argued with his siblings "that person is NOT our Mom!" It took hours for him to come in the house deciding that some stranger wasn't going to stay in our house that long and put the effort into cooking his supper. Looking back on it I don't think he really started to treat me the same until my hair grew back out. He is very sensitive to any indication that he is not "normal" he insists he is just like anyone else. This makes it difficult to explain to him about this disorder or learn from him how to be helpful. I believe it contributes to his anxiety disorder and many challenges at school. Thank you Helen for the comment "it was always the first day", this will help me explain to others what he might be going through.

Posted By Holly on 29th Apr 2013 at 20:51

I would never (and still don't) use people's names in conversation, with them or someone else. Even when I was 95% sure I knew who someone was, I would still never say 'Hey Sally, pass me a pen.' I'd always use other things to get people's attention, generally waving and staring until they noticed me. I imagine that stood out a bit in the classroom.

Posted By helen on 22nd Mar 2013 at 21:37

As a kid i used to love running in supermarkets but once id run from my mom i couldnt recognize her, after being lost quite a few times i began to memorise her clothing. getting lost (in plain sight) in supermarkets might be something other child proso's do. nor did i like school, it was always the first day.perhaps other child sufferers also dislike situations with lots of people and dont make friends easily. being labelled aloof and standoffish seems to be another label.

Posted By Anonymous on 8th Feb 2013 at 18:25

When a child is school-aged and has close friends, ask the child to describe the friend when the friend is not present. My daughter is unable to do this. As a small child she'd say "My friend wears an orange shirt". We'd say "OK, she wore an orange shirt today, but will likely have a different shirt tomorrow. What will she look like tomorrow?" My daughter would be unable to answer this. When class photos came home she'd also be only able to name one or two people in the whole class. For me, thinking back to my own childhood, I remember best my friends who had some unusual or unique characteristic. I was friends with the only student of a different race in my class. She was easy to spot! I was friends with the tallest girl in the school. She was easy to spot! If you want to find a quick and inexpensive test to screen for this in young children, I suggest you try a "line-up" sort of thing. Take the class photo and digitally remove the hair and clothing, leaving only a sea of faces. "Can you show me where Peter is? Where Max is? Sally? Vasha?" If the student can only find the one child who's a different race than the others, that's a dead give-away that the child has prosopagnosia in my opinion.

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