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Reading Faces

July 20, 2019

Even in adulthood, 

The notion of intuitively 

Reading the faces of others

And knowing and understanding

Their current emotional state

And internalised process

Seems such a ridiculous notion.

Maybe that’s because I’m 

Autistic.

After all, it is often said about us

That we have trouble reading faces

And identifying the experience of others.

Such as when they’re bored

When we are speaking too much

About our ‘special interests’.

Well..

Excuse me for not being enthralled

By the talk 

Around the football scores

Or the lovely sunny morning.

It’s not that I don’t appreciate those

Or notice them.

But I notice them

In different ways.

I notice the pattern of how the players move on the field

How they handle the ball

The positioning and movement of their limbs

And the materials the ball is made from

Is it really made from pig skin?

And off I’ll go

Googling footballs

And thinking of pigs.

I notice the weather

I see the way the light of the sun 

Reflects off the car bonnet

The way the rain drops hit the windscreen

In patterns

Which direction in which they fall

How rapidly

The sound they make

How hard the rain hits the ground.

Autistic people often become

The experience.

We don’t just look 

And acknowledge

Or hear

And let it go.

Our brains seek patterns

Movement and light

Problems to explore

We become the experience.

To assume a person

Can ‘read’ the face

Of another

Seems arrogant.

It feels as if

We are dismissing

The uniqueness

The individuality

The complexity

Of the person.

Do I lack the ability

To read and know

The internal process

Of another because

I am autistic?

Or am I accustomed

To being surrounded

By other autistics

Whose faces

Do not match

Their inner world?

We don’t always show

What we feel

How we feel

We are more often

Deep in the complexity 

And beauty 

Of thought.

We are busy

Listening

Watching

Hanging off every movement

Every intonation

Every visual aspect

Every smell

Every touch

We are becoming 

The experience.

We quietly

And carefully

And expertly

Observe.

We remember

What you say

We see

What you do

We come to learn

And know

How you think.

By observing 

You.

Not your face.

Your being.

Your presence.

Your energy.

The way you treat others.

Whether your words

Match your actions.

And we come to learn

That the faces

Others show

Are completely

And utterly

Unreliable.

Many non autistic people

Do not

Share their inner world

Are not

Honest 

About their feelings 

Their thoughts.

Their face

Is their front garden

While they hide

A sink full of dirty dishes

And an unswept floor

Inside.

Autistic people

Mostly laugh

About the messy inside

Share it

Invite others in

To see the humanness

To put others at ease

To connect.

We are mostly real

Authentic

Raw

Unedited

This is how we connect.

We connect with others

Through their energy

Who they are

How we feel in their presence.

Non autistic people

Connect through their words

What they tell each other

What they show on their faces.

So, yes.

For me, it’s true.

I don’t read faces well.

Because I don’t trust them.

I have come to learn

And know

And trust

That they are unreliable.

But my intuition

My gut

Never fails me.

After a lifetime

Of practice

Of error

Of failings

In connections with others

My intuitive muscle

Is well toned.
.
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Kristy Forbes
inTune Pathways

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