Aspies have a delightful ability to interpret everything very literaly. These situations are often so heartbreaking, as you watch the individual with Asperger’s stray down the path of misunderstanding, under the guise of following directions. One of those idioms often used by society is one that I just cannot wrap my head around (but I do understand wrapping my head around a concept, and it is quite visually pleasing to me to say it). That one is, “break a leg”. I can spend the next lifetime nodding my head while well-intentioned individuals try to explain it to me, or I can simply go along with it using my best coping mechanism, humor. I have since started telling people to, “break a leg, then sue”, which guarantees an eruption of side-splitting laughter. For a change, they are not laughing at me, but at the idiocy of the idiom that is often mysteriously used.
This morning, I was told to, “try to make today a simple one”. Why does my head automatically think that the person was telling me that it was high time to go and get pregnant with a child? My brain wiring automatically sends me down that literal path. I am not consciously thinking about how to analyze the words. I just land there. On the bright side (love saying that), there are many idioms that I have grown quite fond of. I am pretty sure it is because of their vivid visuals that pop up the second I hear them. They become so immediately 3-D to me, I can literally feel it. If I can feel it, I can understand it. “Bend over backwards” is something that invokes a visual of extreme dedication; so yes, I get it. But “raining cats and dogs”?! I just don’t see it, don’t feel it, never have seen it, and never will you.I’m sorry if I’m spoiling your linguistic party, but don’t go calling me a “wet blanket”, I am socially “hanging on” for dear life. I’m trying hard to make sense of all of this. And aside for humor, I have one more tool that I often fall back on; despair. Once I can get myself to the point of surrender (“I will never get it”), I can then yield to the idiom without grasping it. I can then embrace it as a never-will-get-it-but-go-with-it situation. Just like birthday parties. I will never understand why people want to gather around and make a lot of noise on a day that you get older. But since it is expected, and a widely accepted custom, I have yielded. I will “wrap my head around it”, and “embrace” it.
Not that I have, “let the cat out of the bag”, I hope you can see how I am serious about, “taking the bull by the horns”. Please exercise compassion for those who struggle greatly to suppress their humorous interpretations of your words in an effort to appease. When we react literally, know that we are not deliberately trying to “drive you up the wall”. I, for one, am truly trying very hard to sort all of this out before I “kick the bucket”. Now go break a leg, and sue.
Written by: Henny S.