Skip to content
people walking around a large maze


As has been mentioned in previous blogs, I cannot understand or recognise facial expressions. There was even a moment in art class during high school when my teacher queried me as to why none of the people drawn or painted by me ever had facial expressions. My honest response to this was that I simply didn’t see them through my own eyes and mind.


From my perspective, everybody has different genetic appearances. No two sets of eyes, mouths or any other physical features look 100% the same. This is even the case with monozygotic siblings. So, therefore, identifying facial expressions is just as difficult a task for me as choosing a grain of sand, and then trying to identify that after it has been randomly mixed amongst billions of others in a box is.
However, after three decades of experiencing this (from birth until the present day), I don’t at all find it unsettling or unusual for me. This life experience is what I have grown up to understand as being the complete norm. As well, for every person strengths in other areas will always compensate for any weaknesses that we have. In my case, I cannot recognise or understand facial expressions, though I can still remember every word they ever say within my earshot, and there’s always a lot of information that I receive from people that doesn’t require me to have a thorough understanding of emotions.


young boy with a compass for a face

To me, this is and always has been what the experience of life is. I cannot understand what it would be like to live differently from this, and I must admit here that I’m quite reluctant to try. Personally, I feel that if I were to constantly see facial expressions it would change my life immensely, and in truth that would also frighten me a great deal. 
In recent years I had therapists who attempted to teach me how to read all kinds of body language in conversations. At first,t I thought that this was a good idea, and I put in vigorous effort in the hope of finally deciphering the code of non-verbal communication. Yet regardless of that, I failed to be able to do so via every kind of learning exercise provided to me by my therapists. Therefore the best idea for me is to put all of my efforts into positive life goals which are achievable.


This could be an unfortunate realisation to come to terms with, or on the contrary, it may after all be a positive realisation. Recently I expressed that if I were to develop the ability to read facial expressions now, it would be just as unsettling as the sudden development of sight in one’s thirties is, after being born fully blind decades beforehand. The experience would be frighteningly life-changing, and there would be absolutely no way for me to turn back and unlearn my new skill. In truth, I don’t know how I would survive, or what I would do with myself if the whole experience overwhelmed me too much.


Thus my family, current therapists and I have firmly decided that it’s essential to only put my efforts into developing positive and achievable changes. It’s a fact that living a fulfilling life and being a good member of society involves so much more than just being able to read body language and emotions. There are so many ways of positively getting around challenges in those areas, and there is nothing at all wrong with living in an emotionally silent world.