Tuesday, March 27, 2012

A confused word

Prince Charming said something to me the other day that caught me by surprise. It was really cute, but in thinking about it afterward, I realized that what he expressed is not uncommon for those who are on the spectrum.

We were nearing the end of our morning routine and it was time to get shoes on before heading out to catch the school bus. I said, “Hey baby, can you go get your shoes please?”

Prince Charming gruffly retorted, “Why did you call me a baby?”

I immediately stopped what I was doing and turned my head to focus on him and process what he just said. Prince Charming had a scowl on his face, obviously displeased with my choice of words.

“Oh! I wasn’t calling you a baby because I think you’re a baby! I was using the word baby as a way to get your attention. It’s kind of like if I called you sweetie or handsome. I know that you’re a big boy!”
He responded, “Baby is a confused word." He thought about it for another few seconds and said with continuing disapproval, "That word is confusing to me. It’s a confused word.”

You know what? He’s right!
We haven’t had many instances of this kind of confusion around our house. Yet. I know that it is very common for people on the autism spectrum to interpret things literally. Prince Charming’s comment was not unexpected.

Titan and I tend to use a lot of creative euphemism. We even come up with our own replacement words to throw the kids off when we’re discussing things like what we’re having for dinner! It’s a strategic parenting trick that allows us to talk openly around the kids without them knowing every minute detail of what’s going on. I know that as the boys start to clue in more to our conversations, they will want explanations and clarifications on the subject matter. And, frankly, they’re so dang smart I figure they’ll have an accurate translation to everything we say soon enough.   
A day or two after Prince Charming told me about the “confused word,” I had a conversation with a young man diagnosed with Aspergers. He was playfully correcting my usage of certain words, explaining some of his personal vocabulary that more accurately fit the definition of the words. Seeing it from his perspective, it made total sense. It was really cool to get insight into an adult’s brain and better understand how they think and process information.  

I wonder when the next time something like this will come up with my boys, and how often we’ll experience these moments. We might end up having some very interesting conversations!
What is your favorite or most memorable moment when your child took something you said literally?       


Lizbeth said...

I told Alex to "stop pushing my buttons" and please hurry with getting his coat on. He walked up to me, pulled up my shirt and started pushing the button on my jeans. He said he wasn't pushing any buttons but he is now!

Effie said...

My non-verbal son is not yet at the stage of expression confusion over subtle words. However, we do have an odd way of simplifying a lot of words in my home to help him accommodate for his deficit in object-labeling. Consequently every liquid that is drinkable and not water is "juice". He can sort of say "juice"..."jooo". In order to distinguish his from mine, his apple juice is "juice" and my diet coke is "mommy juice". :)

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