Wednesday, January 5, 2011

A Change of Face

In my writings for my books, and my blog I have dealt with the fact that remembering people in my memories is not the easiest of things. The question is then, how do I deal with it when people change their appearance? The answer occurred to me on Christmas Eve.

My sister, nephew and I were at the Indianapolis International Airport waiting for my mom. Her flight was delayed, but once she got there and my sister said, "there she is" I kept looking for her. My sister saw her and was standing up, but I looked around as confused as could be.

She was there all right, but I didn't know her. Even though she was standing in front of me I was as cold as could be. It had been a year since I saw her and yet I was as cold as the weather outside (trust me, it was very cold). What happened? Why didn't I know her even though she was in front of me? The answer was she changed her hair.

I do know I don't remember people in my memories, but if someone is in front of me I will recognize them if they look like they did the last time I saw them. My mom's hair was much longer than I had ever seen it so I did not see her. Now, you ask, what does hair have to do with it? Once again I will break out a MS Paint diagram to explain:

This diagram is to prove two things. #1 is that I have minimal artistic abilities (this is up from when I said that I have no artistic ability) and the second, and most certainly more important, is where I see people. I learned this during my Sunglasses Experiment, but never equated it to remembering a person.

In this diagram I have illustrated where I am looking when in the presence of a person. The red box around the eyes is where I will look only if need be, or accident, and the blue boxes are the areas I am normally looking. Also, wherever I am looking, I am usually pinpointed in to minimize the amount of input I am seeing so if I am looking at the mouth I am ONLY seeing the mouth. If I am off to the sides then that is all that I am seeing. Because of this the change of hair and where I look it made it that I did not recognize my mom.

As we walked out of the airport I turned to her and said, "I don't know you." because that is how I felt. Over the course of the week this changed, but at that moment I was very confused.

I had this thought in my head about changes in appearance, but it wasn't until I returned home that I understood. You see, if being confused about one parent wasn't enough, my dad decided to grow a beard and as I walked into the house I was greeted with a person I didn't know yet again.

There are two sides to this as I know Emily would change her hair and I would not notice. This system of where I look varies by person and her changes in hair weren't that drastic. Minute changes may not register, but if a change is drastic, and sudden, then I may get to the point that I don't recognize a person at all. Like most everything else on the spectrum there isn't much middle ground. It is all or nothing.

I want to do more thought on this and will probably write a chapter for my 4th book along these lines. I wish I would have known this during my Sunglasses Experiment to see if that made a difference. In any event I feel this is a very important trait that families should understand because if a person does change their appearance and the person on the spectrum doesn't recognize the new appearance, well, as I said to my mom, "I don't know you."

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1 comment:

  1. You know, nobody's stopping you from using your sunglasses to figure this out again. Having had a sunglasses experiment doesn't mean you can't try anything with it anymore when the experiment is over. It's your experiment, you can start it up again any time you like.