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Wednesday, November 15, 2006


One of the many stumpers with autistic children, can be their tendency to take whatever is said or written, literally. It’s only when you have a couple of autistic children in tow that you begin to realize just how many idioms we use in every day life. For me, this has only recently presented itself as a problem [translation = challenge] due to their speech delays. Before, I was lucky to have any response to anything spoken, now I am paralyzed into unraveling any number of common phrases instantaneously.

“I’ve been on my feet all day,” becomes a bone of contention – oops there’s another one.
• “On your feet? You are on your feet? You can do hand stands instead?” Always so helpful!

• “Why don’t you just put your feet up and rest for a while?”
“Up? Up? Put feet up where? The ceiling it is too high! I am da little guy.”

• “I’ll be with you in just a minute.” O.k. there’s no point in going into the time travel aspects of children’s lives as they all suffer from that one.

• “No it’s not a back pack because I wear it on my front.” That way it doesn’t bump you and it’s easier to get access to the contents, especially if zips are a challenge.

• “Just scrub your fingernails with a brush before dinner.”
“Why it finger ‘nail?’ Why nail? It is not a nail, it is soft and thin. Why brush? Brush is for hair, brush is for teef.” It makes you try to double check everything you say before you say it, but even then, more often than not you still get it wrong.

• “How many times do I have to tell you!”
“Tell me three times. Three is my favourite number.”

• “I’m not sick and tired of his singing because I’m not, not sick, but I am tired of his singing but not sick.”

• “I going to keep my eye on you.”
“Agh! I don’t want it, keep it in your head, don’t touch me wiv it.”

• “Of course you don’t have to, just bare it in mind.”
“Bear! Bear? There is a bear in my head?”

The simplest of statements becomes a mine field; “not twelve eggs, half a dozen will do.”
“Which box is da doz? Why we no have da Baker's dozen. Baker's are my uvver favourite because 13 is having a 3 also!”

Am I complaining? Why would I complain? Three years ago I had two children who were diagnosed as non-verbal, amongst other things, now I have a couple of brain teasers to keep me on my toes. [translation = or should that be ‘to keep me guessing?]

From a long time ago


Kristina Chew said...

Love this list! Life with Charlie has made me a literalist in my own language.

skyangel said...

I found myself nodding at this list!

My son Michael is almost completely non-verbal, but he takes everything quite literally, esp. with his toys. I have the feeling that I'm going to have to join the Literalists' Club too when he starts talking.


Anonymous said...

Cheers to this post!

Anonymous said...

When I was young, my mother would tell me "I'm going to show you the red eye" (it's an expression in Arabic, meaning she's going to get very angry). I would always imagine her with a red bloodshot eye whenever she said this, and the mental image was always scary enough to get me to behave.

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