With agnosia, the person has difficulty recognizing familiar objects when they see, touch, smell, or hear them even when there is no impairment of their senses. Although they may not recognize the familiar object with one sense (such as vision), they may recognize it if a different sense (like touch) is used. In a gallery or museum setting, the participant may put non-edible items like clay, or a paint brush in their mouth, or drink from a cup used to rinse paint brushes. They may not recognize and use a paint brush or pencil that is needed for the activity. They also may not recognize they are in an art gallery or recognize the person who brought them to the program.
This is important because safety concerns may arise when familiar objects are no longer recognized – objects may not be used correctly, and familiar people or belongings may not be recognized. The person may not even recognize themselves when looking in the mirror. As a facilitator, it is important to observe participants carefully to see when safety concerns may arise, or to address situations where you can step in to assist.