My Literal Kid

I’ve got a literal kid, a very literal kid.

It can be challenging. Like the afternoon Annie came home from school totally shattered because her teacher had lied to her. My girl was devastated, this person she trusted, admired and looked up to had LIED to her. It was not until the next day that Annie was calm enough to talk about what had happened, the big lie her teacher had said.

“Mrs C said at recess that she hadn’t stopped to take a breath all morning, but mummy if that was true she would be dead. She lied mum!”

:: cue further sobs ::

So we talked about how that is a saying that means the person had not stopped to take a big deep breath and relax. How sometimes words can mean more than one thing.

Being a great lover of language this was a very intriguing concept for Annie. She has always loved word play jokes

When is a Green book not Green?

When it is read

:: cut to hysterical laughter ::

As she gets older and exposed to more complex language structures it is clear that we are going to need to do more intensive work on idioms and homophones.

Slowly but steadily we are amassing a collection of joke books, as they are a great resource for teaching the various ways words can have more than one meaning.

What do you do when your earrings?

Answer it!

Another resource we are building ourselves is a small diary that Annie carries around in her bag, we have called it ‘The Book of Funny Things People Say’. Into it Annie can write phrases or words she does not understand or finds puzzling for later translation.

Examples we have so far

“Bah Humbug”
“Saved my bacon”
“Chucked his guts up”

Additionally our fabulous speech therapist has provided us with formal worksheets on words and their meanings, such as this:

Look at the picture –

What is the meaning of “computer virus” as it relates to the cartoon?

What clues do you see to support this meaning?

It can be a challenge having a literal kid but it is also giving me a whole new insight and appreciation of our language and the way we learn it.

In the meantime I’m being very careful to phrase myself clearly and make sure I save those confusing idioms for a time when they can be used as a teaching example.

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Marita Beard
Life, the Universe and Autism
Marita Beard


Life, the Universe and Autism

0 thoughts on “My Literal Kid

  • July 25, 2010 at 4:24 pm

    I’ve been told that most kids that are in gifted classes in school take things literally like that.

    It’s nice that you’re so patient about it – some of these kids’ parents are really impatient and can’t deal with having a “literal” child :/


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