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“A room full of strangers every day”: the psychosocial impact of developmental prosopagnosia on children and their families

Dalrymple, Kirsten A.; Fletcher, Kimberley; Corrow, Sherryse; das Nair, Roshan; Barton, Jason J.S.; Yonas, Albert; Duchaine, Brad


Kirsten A. Dalrymple

Kimberley Fletcher

Sherryse Corrow

Professor of Clinical Psychology and Neuropsychology

Jason J.S. Barton

Albert Yonas

Brad Duchaine


Objective: Individuals with developmental prosopagnosia (‘face blindness’) have severe face recognition difficul¬ties due to a failure to develop the necessary visual mechanisms for recognizing faces. These difficulties occur in the absence of brain damage and despite normal low-level vision and intellect. Adults with developmental prosopagnosia report serious personal and emotional consequences from their inability to recognize faces, but little is known about the psychosocial consequences in childhood. Given the importance of face recognition in daily life, and the potential for unique social consequences of impaired face recognition in childhood, we sought to evaluate the impact of developmental prosopagnosia on children and their families.

Methods: We conducted semi-structured interviews with 8 children with developmental prosopagnosia and their parents. A battery of face recognition tests was used to confirm the face recognition impairment reported by the parents of each child. We used thematic analysis to develop common themes among the psychosocial experiences of the children and their parents.

Results: Three themes were developed from the child reports: 1) awareness of their difficulties, 2) coping strat¬egies, such as using non-facial cues to identify others, and 3) social implications, such as discomfort in, and avoid¬ance of, social situations. These themes were paralleled by the parent reports and highlight the unique social and practical challenges associated with childhood developmental prosopagnosia.

Conclusion: Our findings indicate a need for increased awareness and treatment of developmental prosopagnosia to help these children manage their face recognition difficulties and to promote their social and emotional wellbeing


Dalrymple, K. A., Fletcher, K., Corrow, S., das Nair, R., Barton, J. J., Yonas, A., & Duchaine, B. (2014). “A room full of strangers every day”: the psychosocial impact of developmental prosopagnosia on children and their families. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 77(2),

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jun 4, 2014
Online Publication Date Jun 14, 2014
Publication Date Aug 1, 2014
Deposit Date Jul 15, 2016
Publicly Available Date Jul 15, 2016
Journal Journal of Psychosomatic Research
Print ISSN 0022-3999
Electronic ISSN 1879-1360
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 77
Issue 2
Keywords Children, Developmental, Prosopagnosia Face, Recognition Psychosocial, Social development, Thematic analysis
Public URL
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