Reading up on autism, back when I was starting in this journey of self-awareness, I came across the term prosopagnosia or ‘face blindness’. I had thought ‘huh, that’s interesting, but not something I suffer from’ and quickly put it out of my mind. I mean, I’ve never mistaken my husband or children for anyone else, and doesn’t everyone get confused when their doctor bumps into them in the supermarket, in their ‘civvies’ as it were.
But, like so many things when it comes to autism, I now think I may have a mild form of this. Yes, there was the double take I did when my new GP recognised me immediately and all I had was a vague recollection that I knew her from somewhere. She had to remind me that our sons were in the same class in school, and we lived down the road from each other and passed each other twice every day bringing our kids to and from school. Hmm, yeah, I really should have recognised her.
And then I realised this was a problem I’ve had for many years. Like the time I hadn’t seen my dad in about a year, and when my mom arrived home from the airport with him and the babysitter joked that she’d brought home the wrong guy, and I believed her. Because, of course, I couldn’t be expected to remember what my dad looked like, right?
Or the time I mistook a girl with long blonde hair for my long-haired boyfriend in a crowded pub. Yeah, totally blamed my eyesight for that, even though my glasses were the correct prescription. All those mistaken identity cases were purely my eyesight, right?
I was reminded of this the other day, when I needed to get my son’s new paediatrician to sign a form. She told me to pop into the hospital and ask around, as she may be in a ward. I couldn’t find her, so got advised to ask in the Nurses station. So, I asked a lady I assumed to be a nurse. But who was, in fact, the doctor I was looking for. She laughed and assured me she looked completely different without her doctor’s coat on. And this was despite me, on my walk up to the hospital, wracking my brain trying to remember any distinctive feature she may have, despite having seen her and spoken to her in length just two days previously. What did she look like again? She had curly brown hair, maybe. That was as far as I got.
So, yet again, I’m finding an autistic feature I’d previously dismissed as not being an issue for me, and realising that if I’m being totally honest, that it might be. Oh well. At least I’m in good company!
[image of a side profile of a stylised head, in orange. Inside the head in a blank circle, implying thoughts. Above the head, in black, the words ‘what does she look like again?’]