One aspect of autism spectrum disorder that affects Frances is difficulty with figurative language or words that are not intended to be interpreted literally. As she ages, the difficulty becomes more pronounced but it doesn’t always involve idioms or euphemisms.
We were recently at an event for children with autism, and Frances was describing her proposed birthday theme of dinosaurs. It seemed like a good time for me to join in the conversation.
Me: We can have lots of dinosaurs at your party…
Me: Sorry, images of dinosaurs.
Even though Frances would know intellectually that I did not intend to have dinosaurs at her party, the fact that I omitted “images of” in that sentence immediately left her thinking that I had said something nonsensical to her.
At any rate, in order to help her, I frequently use idioms, euphemisms, similes and metaphors intentionally in order to build her repertoire of non-literal language. Fortunately, there are also social dictionaries that include figurative language entries which may be of use to her as time goes on.
Frances is completely entranced by this show (Brain Games) on Netflix. She wants to watch it before school, after school, and at bedtime, and we have agreed that the show meets our definition of a documentary series.
Frances: I read the information, it went to short term memory, and then it was stored as long-term memory.
I love how literal — and very specific/precise — Frances’s answers can be. In this case, she actually explains the process of knowledge acquisition as she understands it… I forget what we were actually talking about!
One of the best things we’ve done in the past year or so has been to sign up for an ebook subscription service for the kids.
For a monthly charge (pretty minimal), parents can monitor what is being read and even set aside books that they want the kids to read. They also receive a monthly report enumerating the books read (which includes a printable certificate).
Each kid has her own account, collects badges for reaching reading milestones and can favourite books that she really likes.