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  • Kristy Forbes

Reading Faces

Updated: Feb 25


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. . . . Kristy Forbes inTune Pathways


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