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Down South to Dixie!

Taking it Literally!

One very common characteristic associated with people on the autism spectrum, is our tendency to take things literally. There are lots of words and phrases in the English language that most people use everyday and don't have to think twice about it. However, a person with autism will not necessarily have the ability to do this and as a consequence they will react to the words that are said to them, as they are said to them.

Some examples of these are:

"Pull your socks up!" - someone with autism may make an attempt to pull up the socks that they are wearing, or if they are not wearing any, it may cause confusion and distress.


"It's raining cats and dogs" - goodness knows what a person with autism imagines this to be!


"Go and wash your hands in the toilet!" - A popular one with young school children, I have heard of many cases of someone using the toilet-bowl instead of the sink to wash their hands. Obviously not the most hygienic of options!


"Wait a minute..." - Do you really mean 60 seconds ??


I have included some personal stories in this section where I have been the victim of interpreting words and their meanings literally. It can cause someone with autism huge amounts of stress and anxiety and may result in damage that lasts for many years.

Be Careful What You Say!

These stories are examples of how someone with autism can get into great difficulty by interpreting things literally. The message I give out to people when I am delivering autism training is: "Be careful what you say!"


Here are some examples of the way that you may explain something that may upset someone with autism:


Puberty in boys: Please DO NOT tell the poor lad that his voice will "break". While I am aware that it is the correct term to use, just think of the damage this could do. "Break" means broken which may be interpreted as he will never be able to speak again!


Puberty in girls: Ladies, whatever you may call them, please DO NOT refer to periods (menstruation) as "The Curse"....