Understanding Faces and Facial Expressions

all the same

Faces are very hard to discriminate!  Look at these faces above.  Are any of the photos the same person???

Changes in hair color, haircut, glasses and even facial expressions completely change the face.

Children with CVI struggle to discriminate faces and facial expressions even well into Phase III.  I will often ask parents to come in to the classroom for a surprise visit.  I ask that they enter quietly.  The child might look and it is clear there is no recognition of this very familiar face.  I ask parents to remain quiet and to move to 12 feet, then 6 feet then 3 feet.  This helps me assess the child’s facial recognition.  When the parent then greets the child verbally, the child lights up to voice and turns to find their much loved parent.

The child might have an easier time discriminating faces at home since there are fewer possibilities (Mom is the only woman who is 5’6″ tall with brown hair.  Dad is the only tall man with a beard).

This is important information to know so we can support children.  One simple strategy is to just introduce yourself.  Children with CVI often find it easy to code by color.  Greetings like “Hi Sue, its Ellen.  I have a green shirt on today” help the child with facial recognition problems find you in the room just by searching first for green.

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