April 04, 2011

Autism Awareness Month - Living with the Literal Boy

Guess who knew it was World Autism Awareness Day this past Saturday?

Uh...not me. The Boy had to tell me. Bad mom.

My excuse? Every day with The Boy is Autism Day; every day with The Boy is an adventure. I never know just what is going on in his mind from minute to minute.

Although The Boy knew the definition of 'literal' and 'figurative' by the time he was five years old (he had a freakingly large vocabulary, and was reading everything), he had a lot of trouble understanding figurative language, idioms and figures of speech.

Here are some examples:

Literal Lyrics
We're riding in the car (he was probably 4), and we're listening to the Delilah radio program. The Boy adored that program. He loved the music and the dedications. Even then, he was sappy.

He's sitting in the back seat, listening intently, when the singer says, "Put your hands together now". I wait to hear The Boy begin to clap.

Nope. I look in my rear view mirror, and he's sitting there, quietly listening, his hands clasped together as if he were in deep and solemn prayer. Then he asks me why I'm laughing, and I don't have the heart to tell him.

Why Can't I Just Locate Some Duct Tape?
The Boy loved him some Garfield. And his big sister Erin was his supplier. His entire bedroom was outfit in all things related to that fat, orange cat. Sheets, comforter, pillow, slippers, yada yada yada - Garfield.

One day, he brings his pillow to me - and wants to confess something. Uh oh.

On the pillowcase, were the following words: "Why can't we tape the sunrise and watch it later?"

The Boy said, "I used to think that it meant that we would somehow get tape up into the sky and tape the sun in place, and look at the sunrise at a time that was more convenient for us."

Again, With the Music
The Boy, like most kids, would get antsy at Christmas time. By Christmas Eve, he was a bundle of nervous energy. He was concerned even about me going to bed early, and not lingering in the living room. And for God's sake, I couldn't sleep on the couch!

Sure, he wanted him to come to our house. Yep, he wanted presents. Then he wanted Santa to get the heck outta Dodge, do not pass Go, do not collect $200.

Just get OUT, fat guy.

His reason? The song "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" - he was convinced that I was gonna get a little lip action with the jolly fellow.

Believe Everything You Read
This one is my absolute favorite.

When The Boy was about six, I took him to Kidapalooza, a children's festival in Pittsburgh. He had a good time looking at all the kid-themed stuff, and from a distance, he enjoyed watching costumed characters performing.

Oh, I guess I should mention the numerous vendors who were selling tons of high-quality, educational toys junk. The Boy became enamored of a round disc that was guaranteed to make you dizzy. It had black and white alternating spirals, and looked like this:

I'm a pushover, of course I bought it for him. After we got home, we made it spin around on a table and watched it and giggled about it. For some reason, he insisted that we keep the packaging it was wrapped in. The next morning, I found out why.

Immediately after breakfast, The Boy gets his spiral disc and lies down on the floor on his back, the disc on his abdomen.

He asks me to make the disc spin. Within seconds, he looks disgusted, and says, "What a ripoff!" He gets up from the floor and gets the package the disc came in.

Right on the package, in large letters, it says  

WARNING: Do not use on a full stomach. May cause nausea.



  1. I have had autistic students. When I take a picture and say hold your chin up, they HOLD their chin. Yes, I know what you go through and I must say you deserve a pat on the back.

  2. rofl. i laugh only because I know what you are talking about. The other day my 18 yr old and his best friend were sitting here talking. Being 18 most of his convos center around girls and sex, which I am grateful he comes to me with it. But he informs his Best Friend that we didn't have any more kids cause Daddy got a vasectomy. Stopping there would have been fine but nooo, he then proceeds to say , " yep dad let them cut his urethra so he couldn't make any more kids"
    His friend looked at him just as straight faced and said ' umm then how does he pee, that ain't the only thing that delivers ya know"
    It was all I could do not to bust out laughing and then I had to explain how that really worked.

  3. June, thank you for sharing the good and the bad of having an autistic child, and always with love and humor. I have never had any experience with an autistic child, but I feel I know much more about the subject because of reading what you write.

  4. omg. Do not use on full stomach. lmao.

    And he didn't want you having any lip action huh. well, better not tell him about the other action you and santa got into after the presents then. :) I kid, I kid. geez

  5. i think, sometimes, we (society) should take lessons from The Boy.

  6. Mine is super literal too. I had a hell of a time explaining the concept of "privacy". If I said, "I'm going to give you some privacy", he would ask me when I was going to give it to him. Like it was a thing, a present or something. Good times.

  7. Thanks for sharing the "lighter" side of autism. I know it isn't all laughs and joy but it is nice to hear about some of the endearing aspects.

  8. Good post! I like the "What a rip off!" Orangeboy uses that phrase a lot.

    BTW, if you happen to subscribe to my blog, I changed my feed so you may have to resubscribe.

  9. Those are great. You have a way with words, that's for sure. And what a great mom you are.

  10. LOL - I couldn't read the ending bc I was scared i'd get a migraine from that black and white thing but if it was as funny and relatable as the rest it might've sent me over the edge ;)


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