How many times have I read that people on the spectrum think very literally, especially when it comes to language? Yes, yes, I thought - that will be Anna. I can see it coming. When her communication gets better, I'll either be doing a lot of explaining or a lot of laughing. Or both.
Today I took the girls to the park for a picnic lunch. I had forgotten to bring a dessert so I promised Anna a piece of gum (a treat and a sensory fix all in one!). In order to encourage her to finish her sandwich I said "Anna, eat your lunch - there is a piece of gum waiting with your name written on it!". How many times have I heard that expression used before? I thought nothing of it.
Anna looked at me and said "Where is my name on the gum? Can I see it?"
I tried not to groan as Mommy Brain kicked in...here come her questions and my reserves were sapped after a long morning. I said "there is no name written on the gum, sweetie. It's just an expression. It means there is a piece of gum is waiting for you."
Sweetly, Anna asked "what is an expression?".
"It's a way of saying something. Anna, please just eat your lunch, and then you can have the gum."
On a better day I would have tried to tell her that an expression is not literal, it's a way of creating a picture in your mind with the language you use. It's a fun way of communicating. I hope someday Anna finds communication fun. Right now it seems for her that it's a lot of work.