visual communication

so yesterday i realised how much face masks effect my ability to understand what people are saying both the information and context.

I have really disliked the whole mask thing since the begining but it was only yesterday that i inderstood why, after somebody i was speaking too could see i was struggling to follow the conversation and was kind enough and intuitive enough to remove it for me and it made a huge difference.

now i realise just how much i rely on observing peoples facial expressions when intetpreting what they are saying, i think this would apply to most people but particularly those with adhd and other similar types of brains.

has anybody else noticed this too or thinks this is related too adhd at all, or perhaps it is just a peronal thing for me.

from now on i will be asking people to remove there masks if i am struggling to understand them and of course they are happy to do so.
if anybody else is experiencing this too maybe give it a try, it is certainly helping me.

just to add, i think that this is related to telephone conversations too which i also struggle with and i think it is for the same reason.

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Yes. Some doctor or other once told me I have ‘autistic hearing’ which I think was simply something they said when your ears function perfectly but you still can’t understand what people are saying. I think it’s something particular to adhd, not autism but it just means something goes fuzzy between the ear and the brain. You are taking in too many sounds, not filtering them, having difficulties with human speech vs just sound. Things like that.

The masks make everything terrible for me. Every interaction becomes a struggle with masked people.

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I’m terrible at reading lips, but I also get so much more out of seeing the speaker’s whole face. Seeing their lips move helps me be more certain about what they are saying (for similar sounding letters, like ‘b’ and ‘d’, ‘m’ and ‘n’, ‘p’ and ‘t’).

There’s also so much meaning that’s found in microexpressions, and we lose all that due to the masks.

The masks also mess with how I imagine people look, vs how they actually look. My brain completes the picture based on other people I’ve met whose upper faces and body build look similar, but my expectations are often wrong.


that reminded me of how i struggle to recognise faces, and if they are wearing a mask I have no hope lol

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I dont approve of the taking off of masks as it’ll help spread covid and kill immunocomprimsed folks.

I do understand this and that is why someone invented see through masks. I will not be linking it as I am upset with you and need to sleep soon. You are welcome to find it on your own time.

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lol the see through masks block sound and fog up. Most of the time those people removing masks like that are already behind a ‘protective’ plastic screen. I wonder what immunocompromised did before this latest round of flu mutations?

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I don’t really have issue with understanding people while they’re wearing masks unless they have an accent. There was this one person at a testing site with an accent and I could not, for the life of me, understand what on Earth he was saying until my mother explained it to me.

Other than that, my problem usually arises from not being told I need to wear a mask in advance (24 hours notice, please) and having anxiety attacks since my brain apparently doesn’t like having things in front of the body parts required to breathe. Luckily for me, the latter doesn’t happen very frequently.


I don’t want this to turn into a debate about the masks effectivness, you are welcome to your opinion however, but really i want this discussion to be about the significance of visual communication in the form of facial expressions for those with adhd.

if it helps forget the masks and use the telephone example if its less emotive.

although i have only just made the connection between my difficulty in following telephone conversations and the absence of the visual cues, during the lockdowns i realised how video calls were so much easier than just audio and based on the example i gave with the lady removing her mask for me, it led me to the theory that facial expressions are important for me to see when talking to people and that maybe this could be related to adhd.


I completly get where you are coming from but lets stick to the topic of the relationship between facial expresions and communiction for those with adhd.

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sorry if anybody finds the mask removal idea a problem, where i live face masks aren’t really a contentious issue, some people wear them and some don’t and it is perfectly acceptable, understood and written into the mask mandate that face masks can be removed for those who struggle with communicating, I just overlooked how this was not the case in other countries.

but again lets concentrate on the communication rather than the masks, as that was my intention :slightly_smiling_face:


I’m a rule-follower. I wear a mask, or socially distance myself from others.

Now, I think some people take it a little too far. When you are driving your own car, the windows are up, and you are the only one in the vehicle, do ya really need to wear a mask? Probably not.

In early 2020, I was working on a job that required me to make pickups and deliveries (of things, not people), half the time with a coworker in the passenger seat (if it was a large pickup or delivery, or if anything required two people to lift).

  • When I was driving, I opened my window and took off my mask because my glasses were fogging up, if I was the driver.
  • If my coworker was driving, I would wear my mask, so he could remove his and not fog up his glasses while driving.

On a few occasions, I’ve seen people driving with fogged-up glasses, and it made me think twice about driving on the same road as them.

“Common sense is not common.”

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I live in a place where there is a lot of division politically & ideologically. In 2020 and the first half of 2021, it seemed that the face mask debate followed the same lines. Now, I think more people around here are just used to wearing them. (There’s still a number of people who don’t.)


i don’t have a problem at all understanding people when they wear masks. which i say not to invalidate anyone else’s experience, but to share a different experience.

i also find that a lot of people articulate things more clearly because they are aware of the obstacles created by masks. e.g. saying, “i’m joking” when they wouldn’t have before.

this is something you can do to model for people if it’s not a norm where you are. “you can’t see but i am smiling.”

i also love wearing a mask because i don’t have to worry about hiding my own facial expressions as much. (though i still do a bit as you can still read facial expressions a fair amount while someone is wearing a mask. plus you can hear facial expressions in someone’s voice.)

i personally do not have much trouble recognizing people with or without masks. i think i will potentially not recognize some people without masks that i met during this period of mask wearing. that’s okay. we will figure it out and everyone will be in the same boat.

i had a classmate who was lousy at recognizing people across the board. people were much more understanding/accommodating because they thought it was because of the masks. (it wasn’t.)


i try to avoid touching my mask after i put it on. you are also forgetting that some of us look much better with a mask on.

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I dunno about that, you look good from where I’m standing :mask: (you might not see because of the mask, but I’m smiling)


If your glasses are fogging up, there is leakage, which means mask does not fit well. This is a potential route for the virus to get in or get out. Double masking may help if you don’t have an N95 mask.

I think in Germany it was even prohibited at the time. (Maybe still is but mask laws change so fast thse days…) I don’t know if it was because of the fogging-up issue (though, being glasses-dependent, I can see how that would impair traffic) or some other reason or if the person who told me that even had their facts right, but it made a lot of sense to me even when everywhere else we were increasingly compelled to wear masks.

I keep seeing people wearing them on bikes, too. Out in the fresh air where they’re guaranteed to not come close to anybody for more than a few seconds. Oh well, I guess it’s that or a security blanket.

Me, I wear them as little as possible because I’m often on the edge of panic attacks in crowded places where you’re supposed to wear them, and the suppressed breathing the masks force me into make that even worse. I know that’s my problem, not everybody else’s, so you won’t see me join any protest marches anytime soon. I just avoid situations that make it necessary as much as possible. It actually makes me angry when people wear them under their chins in protest. Here I am, prone to panic attacks, still wearing them when I must because it’s the right thing to do - what’s their excuse?

As for the original issue, I don’t know if I can hear people worse from behind their masks or if it’s just the acrylic glass screens they’re also behind, but I have been told to speak up more than usual because I tend to mumble as is, and even more so from behind a mask.

I will have to look into the concept of ‘autistic hearing’, though, because I often have a hard time making out what people say despite having pretty good hearing altogether. (I know the latter because noise bugs me. A lot.)


I keep hearing that, usually being said for the wrong reason. I did notice, though, that some people have great eyes.

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i reallydid not want this topic to be about masks or covid at all, but clearly everybody else does lol

so here is something to think about, me and my brother live in different countries alrhough we only live 1 hour apart and the countries are only devided by an imaginary border, now last year both countries took very different approaches to “fighting” Covid especially since the latest omicron variant came along, where my brother lives they have been very strict on masks, lovkdowns, vaccine passports etc and fortunately my country has not, in both countries we have had the peak and subseqeunt drop off in infection rate, my brothers country has declared that the restrictions were responsible for the reduction in infection rate, my country has used the reduction in infection rate as evidence that they made the right decision in not introducing more draconian measures.

i will also add that the country my brother is in, despite having stricter measures has worse overall statistics in regard to infection rates and covid deaths.

if the masks, lockdowns and vaccine passports worked, then this could not possibly be true, you may think that there must be a difference in population size and density and there is but it is the country that i live that has the bigger population and density, you may think perhaps there is adifference in cultural norms with social interactions etc, but there isn’t, you may think that there is a difference in the health care system, but they are identical, if the measures really worked, then what i have described above could not possibly be true.

there are many examples of this around the world, i am not saying that stricter measures lead to worse covid outcomes, but there is no corolation between masks, lockdowns and vaccine passports and how succesful a country has been at managing the epedemic.

So don’t look down on those who can’t or choose not to wear a mask, nobody has the moral hogh ground here, for an adult either wearing or not wearing a mask in public does not make any significant difference.