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He thought they were calling him slow; the literal-minded 8 year old

ASD Literal-minded
This is the sign displayed in front of my eight year old’s school
I guess he hadn’t really noticed it before, but when we pulled in front of the school to head to go the book fair he jumped out of the van and stamped his foot.
“Arghh!” he yelled.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
“That sign!”
“What’s wrong with the sign?”
“The sign is saying we are slow children,” he said, “I’m not slow, look.”
He did his best sonic the hedgehog impression and ran for the front door.
I tried to explain to him that the sign is meant for the cars. It tells the drivers that there are children here and they have to slow down.  He looked at me sideways, and said nothing. I figured that I had explained it well enough.
When we walked back to the van, which I happened to park directly in front of the sign, he jumped up and tried to smack the it.
“Stupid sign,” he said.  “That’s not right Mom, they are calling me slow.”
Every time I see the sign now I giggle.  He still doesn’t grasp the meaning of the sign, but takes the words completely literally. It is a perfect illustration of how our autistic brains make literal interpretations and sometimes despite an adequate explanation we at times still fail to grasp the meaning, or rather, have difficulty getting past our own literal interpretations.
I found it even more interesting that not only did my little guy take the sign literally, he took it personally. He didn’t really see the sign as saying that all the children were slow, but that HE was slow.  Of course, in his mind, he could run very fast—like sonic and was very upset of the injustice of it all.
Now, he has just determined that the sign is a liar.

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.


  1. Pingback: Be Careful of What You Say to ASD Children; the literal-Minded 8 year old | Aspie Writer

  2. I have definitely seen that sign and wondered why they were warning about slow children before. My absolute favorite sign, though, is one one of those flashing ones, it read…

    “Caution! Low, Slow Moving Objects Ahead”
    and then changed to
    “Men at work”

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