Just got around to watching Sunday’s edition of “Sixty Minutes”—love, love, love my DVR--and enjoyed the piece on Prosopagnosia, or Face Blindness. My youngest daughter, Meghan (age 11), has this puzzling condition.
Meghan is the most charming girl, and has a real enthusiasm for life that is enhanced by an extreme dose of ADHD. A day with Meghan is filled with lots of exclamation points. I first noticed her difficulty recognizing people when she was a preschooler, but chalked it up to her young age. Then, when she was in first grade, she offended the Vice Principal at her school by confusing her with the cafeteria lady…to her they looked alike because they were both African American with short hair. To the Vice Principal it was a case of racial stereotyping.
Then, we had a young lady stay at our house for five days. She even shared a bed with Meghan. She left and came back a week later, and Meghan had no idea who she was. I thought it was a joke at first, but when I relayed the story to her teacher, she shared the “cafeteria lady” story and how she had to calm down the Vice Principal, and I thought, “Houston, we have a problem.”
This has gone on for years. If someone gets a haircut, she might not recognize them. Just several weeks ago, an exchange student who had lived with us for a year came back to visit. It was only 11 months ago that she left us, and she had grown her bobbed hair long. Meghan looked at her for 10 or 15 seconds, and then finally recognized her, saying, “I knew it was you when I saw your necklace!” She had recognized the mother-of-pearl necklace she regularly wore, but not a young woman she had lived with for a year.
I don’t think Meghan realizes her Face Blindness is unusual, but as she gets older, I’ll try to help her with some tricks to remember people. I am terrible with names, so maybe it will help me, too.