Dinosaurs, literally

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…

Frances: What?!?

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.

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