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wavefreak58
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30 Jan 2011, 7:04 pm

I teach an art class at the local art store. It's actually perfect. It lets me talk non stop about a special interest to a captive audience.

I have a bit of face blindness and serious trouble remembering names. I've always started my class with something about how bad I am with names, but I'm wondering if I should just 'fess up and say what the problem is. What makes me thing I should is that at an art show one of my students came up to me and I treated her like I had never met her. After a few minutes I figured out who she was. Because she was outside of the context where I knew her I could not place her face. She has taken my class twice, so 16 weeks, 2 hours each week should be enough, you'd think. I would be very discouraged if I saw my art teacher and he didn't recognize me.

So I was thinking I should to a 30 second "I have autism and face blindness" speech. Basically, I WILL forget your name and face, sometimes after successfully remembering it many times. If you see me outside of class, please don't be timid in approaching me and please, if I don't recognize you, tell me who you are.

So what do you think? Should I tell my students?


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eudaimonia
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30 Jan 2011, 7:22 pm

I don't see how it could hurt. Unlike in a situation where you are employed by someone else who may not be very supportive of human quirkiness, the class that you teach is mostly under your control. You are in a situation where you can set yourself up to be understood and not at the mercy of these people.

Plus if they know that you throw so much of your energy into your art and are therefore very well suited to instruct them, they might be more in awe of you, and you can illuminate the finer points of focus for them as well.



Wallourdes
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30 Jan 2011, 7:58 pm

I wouldn't tell them about the autism, since the general picture of autism isn't that great.

Better be quirky then deviant in this case, so you have trouble with faces and names in which you mean nothing in particular against anyone - your are simply like this and always have been.
I guess you need to keep authority to some extent in the class as a teacher.

Oh, you can make references to the typical male jokes - most of these seem to me to apply to autism, autists are described to have a 'extreme male brain' (link) for your reference.


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wavefreak58
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30 Jan 2011, 8:22 pm

Wallourdes wrote:
I wouldn't tell them about the autism, since the general picture of autism isn't that great.

Better be quirky then deviant in this case, so you have trouble with faces and names in which you mean nothing in particular against anyone - your are simply like this and always have been.
I guess you need to keep authority to some extent in the class as a teacher.

Oh, you can make references to the typical male jokes - most of these seem to me to apply to autism, autists are described to have a 'extreme male brain' (link) for your reference.


This is a class for adults, not children. And, since it is MY class, I pretty much control the entire thing.

I also have issues with prevaricating, especially defensively. If I have to hide what I am then people can just suck an egg. This doesn't mean I want to wave a flag.


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Wallourdes
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30 Jan 2011, 8:32 pm

wavefreak58 wrote:
Wallourdes wrote:
I wouldn't tell them about the autism, since the general picture of autism isn't that great.

Better be quirky then deviant in this case, so you have trouble with faces and names in which you mean nothing in particular against anyone - your are simply like this and always have been.
I guess you need to keep authority to some extent in the class as a teacher.

Oh, you can make references to the typical male jokes - most of these seem to me to apply to autism, autists are described to have a 'extreme male brain' (link) for your reference.


This is a class for adults, not children. And, since it is MY class, I pretty much control the entire thing.

I also have issues with prevaricating, especially defensively. If I have to hide what I am then people can just suck an egg. This doesn't mean I want to wave a flag.


I guess you just gave yourself the answer to your question :wink:.


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wavefreak58
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30 Jan 2011, 9:16 pm

Wallourdes wrote:
I guess you just gave yourself the answer to your question :wink:.


I wish it were that easy. Since, by definition, I am impaired in understanding social interactions, the efficacy of my own predilections is indeterminate. While I may be inclined to tell someone to suck an egg, the implications of doing so are not evident to me.

Ironically, this same predicament holds true for all aspies and hence asking for social advice from those equally socially challenged as myself is perhaps a less than optimal strategy.

And, in typical fashion, I will ruminate on this dilemma far more persistently than is probably wise. My first class this time around is in 10 days. I'll probably think about it several times a day until then, changing my mind frequently.


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aghogday
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30 Jan 2011, 9:27 pm

Maybe you could make a compromise with yourself and instead of presenting technical terms like Autism and Face-blindness that might put more focus on you than you want, you could say something to the effect of some people have problems with remembering names, some people have problems remembering faces, I happen to have a problem remembering both...



wavefreak58
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30 Jan 2011, 11:32 pm

I must admit to some confusion as to why I even think about this. Would someone not on the spectrum even concern their self with the issue? Does a 'normal' person have to calculate the effects of a particular decision in this manner?

Maybe it's a defensive thing. Face blindness, even in my mild form, can be very unnerving. Maybe I'm trying to head off future uncomfortable moments.


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aghogday
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31 Jan 2011, 12:28 am

wavefreak58 wrote:
I must admit to some confusion as to why I even think about this. Would someone not on the spectrum even concern their self with the issue? Does a 'normal' person have to calculate the effects of a particular decision in this manner?

Maybe it's a defensive thing. Face blindness, even in my mild form, can be very unnerving. Maybe I'm trying to head off future uncomfortable moments.


Most of my life I thought the fact that I had to analyze every detail meant that I had a greater degree of cognitive orientation than others; I think the pitfall of this kind of thinking is it leads to the potential for greater worry and anxiety.

From the questions I have asked others about their way of thinking and perceiving the world; no I don't think a "normal" person would concern themself with an issue like explaining to people I'm not good at remembering names until they got involved in a situation that warranted the comment. Or, if they were diabetic, epileptic, etc.

Faceblindness seems like it would be an exceptionally hard issue to deal with; I never heard of it until I visited this website. I understand some don't even recognize family members. I don't see a need to explain the Autism, but explaining the faceblindness might reduce the potential, not only for your discomfort, but also possible discomfort that a student might feel when they approach you in a different environment and you may not recognize and acknowledge them.



wavefreak58
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31 Jan 2011, 7:42 am

aghogday wrote:
I don't see a need to explain the Autism, but explaining the faceblindness might reduce the potential, not only for your discomfort, but also possible discomfort that a student might feel when they approach you in a different environment and you may not recognize and acknowledge them.


This is the most important thing to me. My class goes fine. I always get a good response. But I have met people out of context that I should recognize and it must seem terribly rude that I don't.

I don't understand your caution about bring autism into the explanation.


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verbal0rchid
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31 Jan 2011, 8:01 am

I have a story, and please take this for whatever it's worth, just my thoughts on the situation.

A little over 16 years ago, I had a daughter. I placed her for adoption. I couldn't take care of myself, let alone a child. So I went through a Christian agency, they put me in touch with a couple unable to conceive on their own, and it seemed like a perfect fit. I've never regretted it, and I believe in my bones it was the right choice for both of us.

What was interesting to me is the approach the agency uses with adoption. In some ways it's a LOT stricter than state run agencies because not only do parents have to meet state regulations for adoption, they must meet 'moral' requirements as well for approval with this particular agency. However, in one respect they are extremely open: they believe in full disclosure of adoption to the child from the beginning.

My daughter left the hospital and went home with them, not me. From day 1 she has known she was adopted. They (the agency) calls them "Children of Destiny". I believe they are. The premise of this is that by the time the child is old enough to truly understand what the word 'adoption' means, it will have been such a regular, normal part of their lives that they will feel little to no lost sense of identity, no stigma attached to it like so many other adoptees who found out when they were older. It's a HUGE shock to a child or adult to discover that the parents they grew up believing were theirs, were in fact, not theirs in the biological sense. For some, it's catastrophic. Others (very few) take it in stride, but they all still struggle with it for a time.

From what I hear, through the agency that I still keep in touch with, my daughter has never had an issue with her identity, and is for all accounts a well adjusted, bright young lady. I do believe this is at least in part to her knowing she was adopted from birth.

The more you treat something as not stigmatic, I believe the less of a stigma it will carry, the less of a negative connotation. It's not something shameful, it's just how you are, and face blindness or inability to remember names is simply one of those things that some Aspies share. If you treat it like something you're ashamed of, this facet of your personality, then others will pick up those cues from you and react accordingly, I believe. I've seen it happen a lot.

If it would affect your job in a negative way, I wouldn't advise full disclosure. However, if that isn't a factor, I would make mention of it to explain and simply treat it as something that is simply a trait you possess that relates to Asperger's.

In such situations (because I have a huge difficulty remembering names, only faces), I tend to be lighthearted about it, like it's not really that big a deal. Even before I knew about AS myself. I would simply say "I apologize in advance, because I am HORRID at remembering names, so if I forget, just poke me or something, and tell me again, LOL"

It lightens the burden on you and reduces the embarrassment the other person feels when they have to remind you YET AGAIN, what their name is. I would venture the same could go for former students whose names you've forgotten.

Best of luck.



hale_bopp
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31 Jan 2011, 8:05 am

Don't tell them about the autism, but it might pay to mention the face blindness in an unembarassing and open way.



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31 Jan 2011, 8:17 am

wavefreak58 wrote:
aghogday wrote:
I don't see a need to explain the Autism, but explaining the faceblindness might reduce the potential, not only for your discomfort, but also possible discomfort that a student might feel when they approach you in a different environment and you may not recognize and acknowledge them.


This is the most important thing to me. My class goes fine. I always get a good response. But I have met people out of context that I should recognize and it must seem terribly rude that I don't.

I don't understand your caution about bring autism into the explanation.


I second (or third or whatever) the advice to tell people about face blindness but not autism. When many people are understanding something that is entirely outside their experience, extreme specificity and a short explanation is the most helpful. Many people have no idea of what to expect about a person "with autism". The phrase brings up random associations based on what they've been exposed to in the media. There is no specificity and so they don't know what to expect. If you were to be around these people for a long time (co-worker, spouse), then autism education is important. But you'll only see these people for the length of the course. All they really need to know is that you won't recognize them outside the art class. It's a simple concept and one they can easily assimilate. "Doesn't he know who I am? Oh yea, face blindness".

In short, face blindness is quick to explain and quick for them to adjust to. Explaining autism is far more complicated and more information than they need for smooth interaction with you.



wavefreak58
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31 Jan 2011, 9:40 am

Why is everyone so afraid of admitting their autism? How can we ever expect our rights to be honored when our first reaction is to recoil against disclosure at every turn? Autism is not a disease.


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verbal0rchid
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31 Jan 2011, 9:58 am

wavefreak58 wrote:
Why is everyone so afraid of admitting their autism? How can we ever expect our rights to be honored when our first reaction is to recoil against disclosure at every turn? Autism is not a disease.


That's the short point of my long winded post up there, lol.



Unlimited_Sky
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31 Jan 2011, 10:09 am

I suppose it is because neurotypical people do not seem to understand. It is my thought that if someone does not understand something, if they are ignorant to the truth, the person that knows should enlighten them. In this case, it seems that job is ours. Only we can understand ourselves. Two of the most prominent outcomes of openly stating that you are autistic are a willingness to be nondiscriminatory or a misinterpretation of what autism is. Either way, dancing around the subject, keeping it barred behind some dungeon door, is not going to help. People are either willing to take you for who you are, or they aren't. In the case of the latter, shame on them for being shallow. I see no gain in being cautious. I suggest being frank, but prudent, giving a brief and concise description of the facts. In my experience, if you present your case well enough, people will become open at least enough for you to get by in the present. As said before, you aren't going to lodge with these people. As long as you can get by successfully during the time you are with them, you will be fine. Oh, and going by the norm, I doubt the sucking an egg would prove wise. For whatever reason, people become offended if you tell them to stuff it.