10 things not to say to children with autism…

1) ‘Have you got ants in your pants?’  I learnt this the hard way!!!  On a day full of stimming, I jokingly asked Danny this only to be met with hysteria as he started screaming, pulling off his clothes, clawing at himself and panicking that he actually had ants in his pants.

2) ‘What’s up?’  this one just ends with either being looked at as if you’re completely stupid as everybody knows what way is up, or your child pointing to the ceiling

3) ‘It’s raining cats and dogs’ – don’t think this one needs any explanation!

4)  ‘Keep your eyes peeled’  – que lots of questions about how to peel your eyes and lots of poking and pulling at eyelids and eyeballs

5) ‘Hop to it’ – trust me, when a teacher says this to a classroom full of children you will spot the ones with autism as they’ll be hopping (or standing still trying to decide where ‘it’ is that they need to hop to!)

6) ‘Christmas, birthday, school holidays are just around the corner’  this one can not only cause a lot of confusion but also a lot of disappointment which I learnt when I told poppy that winter was just around the corner.  It wasn’t until we turned a corner walking to school and she started crying and saying that she couldn’t see winter that I realised my mistake.

7) ‘Keep an eye on that’ – the confusion on Danny’s face when I asked him to keep an eye on Milly for a minute was priceless, you could almost hear the whirring of his brain as he was trying to establish how he was going to a) remove his eye b) get Milly to let him put it on her and c) keep it there

8) ‘Hold still’ – firstly, who or what is still and how can you hold still if you can’t see or touch it?  See how complicated telling the kids what to do can be!!!

9) ‘Just 2 seconds’ – Big Danny recently told Milly that he’d do something for her in 2 seconds, only for her to count to 2 and expect him to do what she wanted.  I know a lot of children do this, some very sarcastically but my 3 genuinely think that when you say 2 seconds, or in a minute that you are going to be that specific length of time – no more, no less.

10) ‘I’m dying’ – This one used to be uttered whenever big Danny was suffering from a hangover until we realised how bad an affect those two words could have if the kids were paying attention.

If you’ve not realised from my list, a lot of people with autism have a habit of misunderstanding a lot of what is being said to them.  This is not because they are stupid (they’re far from it) but because they take what is said to them literally.  They don’t pick up on the social clues and tones of sarcasm and they tend not to read between the lines, instead just taking the words for what they actually mean.

Danny came home from school this week a little bit worried as his best friend had told him that one of the dinner ladies made you eat your lunch box.  I know his mum won’t mind me saying that he has a habit of inventing some very amusing stories (Big Danny used to be called Elliot and was on the titanic, little Danny was named after a dead cat and I was on the Jeremy Kyle show – none of which is true!) so I just laughed and told Danny not to worry.  It wasn’t until I was discussing this latest little snippet that we realised that his friend had said that the dinner lady makes you eat all of your lunch box – meaning the contents, but Danny had taken it literally and was convinced she made you eat the plastic container too.

Living in a house where everything you say can be misinterpreted can be hard work and a little confusing at times but it definitely makes life amusing!

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2 thoughts on “10 things not to say to children with autism…

  1. I love this post. Has made me think of all the metaphors we use and sayings that we take for granted that everyone uses in day to day life. I use “put a sock in it” quite a bit!!

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