If you can't read facial expressions...

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GreenGrrl
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28 Jul 2009, 2:10 am

What do you see on people's faces if you can't read the expressions? Do they all just have 'blank' looks on their faces, or do you see an eyebrow move, lip curl, etc. and you just don't know what it means?


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Electric_Kite
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28 Jul 2009, 2:28 am

I just don't know what it means. I can often figure it out, but I'm often wrong, and I'm often too slow at figuring it out to react appropriately.



buryuntime
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28 Jul 2009, 3:31 am

I don't notice facial expressions because I don't look at people's faces... when I do look at their faces I don't notice those things. I look at their mouths. I had no idea people actually... I don't know, used their faces in that way until I started learning about having AS.



DaWalker
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28 Jul 2009, 3:33 am

Prosopagnosia is something that I have two different diagnosis of.

The first was IMO, a very unprofessional cookie cutter paper trail type diagnosis.

According to that one, I am face blind, (and a very long list of "others") although I can recognize people after the third or fourth meeting, rarely the 2nd, and never if only seeing someone in passing.

However upon a much more lengthy detailed and intense study of all the contributing factors to my personal condition, it was decided that the fact I don't look at peoples faces with any interest. I was asked what color his secretaries eyes where, I was asked with his back turned to identify his nose and mouth from a chart, I was asked to pick a sketch that looked like his intern. Passed with flying colors, though his secretary was of extreme interest to me, and his intern was a tease and laughed alot, and I have known him for quite some time.

I can recognize people in other ways, even at great distances, by their movements. Up close and personal interactions do not involve me looking at their eyes or mouth, until I am Very comfortable with that person. But if I see a person that I kinda know, I can spot em at the other end of large mall, or football field pretty accurately, by the way they walk and move.

What I see initially is a distant figure when talking to someone new, not necessarily blurry, just distant as in no detail. Kinda like a light is shinning from behind them, or like looking at a star, you know there is detail there but you don't spend much time or attention trying to figure it out, I spend my time thinking about what is being said and how I am going to respond, and of course running through three or four possible scenarios of each before responding, so who has time to map out an image when all is preoccupied with much more important stuff. :lol:

Hope that gives you a general idea,
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28 Jul 2009, 4:21 am

We see them but we don't know what it means or why they did that look, etc. I am often not looking at people so I don't ever see it. A classic example of it:


I was eight and I was in speech therapy and I did something to a girl in my class and during speech therapy, one of the kids brought it up and then the girl spoke up saying what I did and the whole therapy turned into about the discussion about my behavior. Then the session was over and the kids go back to our class and our speech therapist has me stay and she asks me if she is happy and I say she is because she didn't look mad. I looked at her face and she wasn't mad because she wasn't yelling and I didn't see the look on her face I have learned in school about mad faciel expressions. She kept asking me if she is happy and I kept saying "yes."


That was me failing to see she wasn't happy and she is upset and I just couldn't tell by the tone in her voice and the topic we were on. Back then you had to raise your voice at me to let me know you are mad or else I would have thought you were happy because that was what I had learned in school.



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28 Jul 2009, 6:13 am

I can see it, I can even sketch it, but I have no idea what it means.



ruveyn
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28 Jul 2009, 6:17 am

GreenGrrl wrote:
What do you see on people's faces if you can't read the expressions? Do they all just have 'blank' looks on their faces, or do you see an eyebrow move, lip curl, etc. and you just don't know what it means?


Over the years I have learned how to "read" faces. Now I can't not read them. It is like learning to read the printed language. Once learned, it cannot be voluntarily unlearned.

It took me much longer to learn to "read" faces and body language than NTs. I was still learning in my 20s what most normal kids know by the age of 10.

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Mikey7236
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28 Jul 2009, 6:30 am

i see them perfectly fine, i understand basic ones..like surprise, sadness, happiness, shock, disgust..but more complex ones i either just dont understand, mistake for something else, or take too long to realise what it is. It's quite frustrating really lol, and often leeds to me making a fool of myself >.<


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28 Jul 2009, 6:40 am

just cant read expressions mostly i reconize emotions by voice tone


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28 Jul 2009, 7:21 am

I think what happens for me is that I'm so focused on the conversation that there is no energy left over to take in visual details of the face.


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28 Jul 2009, 8:02 am

I used to think it was just some sort of Hollywood convention that two people would look at each other and then they knew they were 'in love'. I had no idea until my late 50's that there was body language and facial expressions going on there. It made me look back over all my life when I didn't get any verbal answers from people when they were looking at me so intently and me just begging them to tell me what was going on.

When I see their faces (I am like da Walker, and don't remember one face from another unless I see them a lot, but if I see them out of context say, someone from work at the grocery, I can't make the connection) they just sorta move them around. It's all Greek to me.

(shrug)


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peterd
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28 Jul 2009, 8:05 am

Faces? Don't recall them. Expressions? You mean they mean something?

I've spen a few odd hours trying to work through some face patterns software, but after a while they all look the same and trying any harder just makes me angry.
In social contexts I keep a close eye on my (NT) partner, and when she twitches I know I've done something or missed something. Unfortunately, that's my only access - to learn more I have to ask her what it was. That doesn't help in the "learn from the mistake and move on" sort of stakes.



Michjo
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28 Jul 2009, 8:18 am

For me, it's having no scope for comparison. With each new person i meet, i have to learn a new bunch of emotional states/expressions.



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28 Jul 2009, 9:09 am

It's not being able to tell what it means, not figuring it out until too late, or convincing myself that I'm paranoid if I think they're upset. I think that last one was the fault of therapists and my mother, though. Between therapists who didn't like me and wanted to deny it and the permanently disgusted look on my mother's face, (Seriously, like grocery-store checkout people will comment that she looks upset and ask what's wrong, and she'll be all shocked and not realize she looked upset because she's not upset,) people have done a great job of convincing me that any facial recognition ability I might have is just paranoia.

Taking quizzes online, I can sometimes figure out what's on a face, but that's sitting there with unlimited or nearly unlimited time studying it, it's not the same as seeing a face, looking at it normally (you can't stare at all the details of a real person's face to figure it out..) and then respond appropriately, in real time. It's largely the taking a normal amount of time and not getting funny thoughtful expressions on my face while trying to figure out what someone's face means that's problematic. Those quizzes are to conversation what an un-timed reading quiz is to a subtitled movie. Just because a dyslexic, given enough time, can read and understand a paragraph, doesn't mean they'll be able to keep up with a subtitled movie.



b9
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28 Jul 2009, 9:19 am

Quote:
If you can't read facial expressions...

then do not select that book from your available library.



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28 Jul 2009, 11:09 am

I can see how their faces move, I can see many details on their faces that others don't always seem to see which is at least one reason why I cannot learn to spot facial expressions (too many details that I take in (autistic symptom) and inability to see the greater picture/to generalise (autistic symptom).

As a kid though, I saw people only in bits and pieces.


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