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Idioms and Asperger’s Syndrome

“Money doesn’t grow on trees”

Asperger’s and Idioms

I am going to begin a series on idioms; maybe I will call it the Idiom Idiocy Series. I have a good grasp on idioms, meaning I have knowledge of what each means. However, in order to reconcile myself to their uses I usually need to research the background to understand where the phrase comes from and its original meaning. (One of my Aspie obsessions is with word and phrase origins.) Then I can make an educated determination on whether the darn thing makes any sense at all. I must admit, for me, usually they do not. I would like to know how other’s with Asperger’s Syndrome have learned idioms and/or how they have taught their children these non-literal phrases.

If you anyone has any particularly interesting idioms, or ones that really drive you up the wall, please let me know. Each week I will pick one and dig into its roots, and then we can rant and rave about how idiotic we feel the meanings are, or share hysterically ridiculous ways it can be taken literally.

Last night I was thinking of the phrase, drives me up the wall, and I realized that it gives the literal picture of a cartoon character driving me in a car up the kitchen wall. I’m still wondering this morning, if something drives you crazy, or really annoys you–it drives you up the wall. Why? Why up a wall? And, I suppose that is the reason for my Idiom Idiocy project…I need to know why!

Help me, throw your best idioms at me and let me see if I can get to root of their origins. Maybe then I we can figure out how to teach our aspie children not to take them so literally (Good Luck on that one!) I made the awful mistake of sounding like my mother and telling my 13-year-old aspie son, “Money doesn’t grow on trees!”

The minute it left my mouth I knew what was coming.  His response, “Well, Mom, actually, money does grow on trees.  Money is made of paper, and paper of wood—trees.  Therefore, money does, in fact, grow on trees!” What could I say to that?

Jeannie Davide-Rivera

Jeannie is an award-winning author, the Answers.com Autism Category Expert, contributes to Autism Parenting Magazine, and the Thinking Person's Guide to Autism. She lives in New York with her husband and four sons, on the autism spectrum.