The main (and very logical) feature in ‘autistic verbal language’ is their extreme literalness. One verbal word has only one ‘inner image’ – something the child can refer to in his or her ‘mental vocabulary’. Some autistic children seem to have difficulty accepting synonyms. I share their frustration. How can two or even more words refer to one and the same thing? Alex was completely confused when a visitor, collecting donations for charity, asked him whether she could sit with him on the sofa. ‘But we have no sofa!’ said Alex who was sitting on the settee. The visitor took it as an offence and complained to Mother that the boy was making fun of her. It was a big mistake. Huge! She thought that Mother would discipline her son (who hadn’t done anything wrong, by the way). The visitor was ‘disciplined’ instead; Mother gave her an hour and a half lecture on autism (and a cup of tea to go with it). Actually, the ‘punishment’ turned into ‘reward’. The lady became very interested in the subject and asked many questions. She happened to know a family with an autistic child and Mother’s explanations helped her interpret some of the ‘insulting’ behaviours, such as his comments on her being ‘very old and wrinkled’.
Alex ability to read brings some problems as well… For example, the family went shopping to buy some food for a barbecue. They were all in a very good mood when they left. The mood they had when they came back was a different matter. I knew what had happened from a telephone conversation (Mother told the story to her friend). In the shop there was a huge display of tins and cans and a big advertising notice on the top of the shelf: ‘Grab and Go!’ So Alex did just that – he grabbed the tin of hot dogs and went. Unfortunately, the security guard was not impressed with Alex’s compliance to do what he was told.
It’s a pity that many humans who are in contact with autistic HSs [Human Sapiens] often forget about their literalness, and when unexpected outcomes emerge they put all the blame on the autistic humans being difficult. For example, Miss Ponytail [a lady with Asperger Syndrome] has found herself in trouble many times just because she trusted her acquaintances. Once she was visiting her colleague who was on sick leave and the latter said, ‘It’s been very kind of you to come to see me. Pop in any time you are in the neighbourhood.’ A couple of days later Miss Ponytail did just that (popped in when she was in the neighbourhood) but her colleague refused to open the door and called the police. The colleague should have been more specific and told Miss Ponytail that she didn’t mean the time between midnight and 7 am (when Miss Ponytail was returning from her shift at work). So whose fault was it that Miss Ponytail had to explain her behaviour at the police station and got a bad reputation among the neighbours?
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