A brief thought about prosopagnosia or face-blindness

Today at a public swimming pool our youngest child happily greeted and played with no less than six school friends or acquaintances met previously, all of them met up with separately by our child. Our child had a morning of swimming, fun and friendship. I’m sure our child’s morning would not have been quite as much fun if our child had been unable to recognize faces, as is the case in people who have developmental or acquired prosopagnosia. Either our child identified familiar faces among the crowd and approached others in a friendly manner at the pool or our child was recognized by friends, and I would guess that if our child’s response to being recognized by others had been puzzled indifference, the meetings might not have been as friendly they were.

I can only assume that prosopagnosia must have a negative impact on the social life of anyone of any age, but I’ve got to wonder what impact it might have on the life of a young child. I have no idea whether there are any really effective treatments or learning strategies for children with poor face recognition, but if there are, I think prosopagnosia should be identified as early as possible. I’ve read that face recognition is an ability that develops in childhood and does not reach a peak untill well into adulthood, unlike many other cognitive abilities that peak much earlier, so it seems possible that something could be done to help kids with poor ability in face memory. In the teenage years there will be another important social skill to learn and refine – pretending to not recognize annoying people in public places.

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