In March of 2017, we shared with you a video in which a young woman with autism explained the various phrases she found confusing—phrases that could easily be misunderstood by someone with a literal mind. We were thrilled with how much you guys loved it…and even more thrilled when several of you went on to share some hilarious and adorable stories of misinterpretation.
Even though many of the challenges of autism can be dead serious, there are definitely some that make for funny, lighthearted moments—and literalism is definitely one of those challenges that can produce some funny situations.
Here were some of our favorite funny and sweet language mishaps you shared with us.
16. “Your hands are dry.”
“I told my son his hands were dry so he started licking them.” —Chantelle S.
15. “Please do the dishes.”
“Conversation with my high functioning son:
Me: ‘Why aren’t the dishes finished? I told you to finish them!’
Son: (confused) ‘I did the dishes…’
Me: ‘Then why are there still pots and pans on the stove and counter? Obviously you didn’t do the dishes.’
Son: ‘You told me to do the DISHES, not the pots and pans…’
Me: *facepalm* ‘Oh. Huh. Well then, would you please do the pots and pans now?’
That was an eye opening moment.” —Kathleen S. H.
14. “What brought Mary and Joseph to Egypt?”
“When my daughter with autism was in a Catholic middle school her religion teacher asked, ‘What brought Mary and Joseph to Egypt?’ My daughter answered, ‘A donkey.’ Fun times.” —Patrice C.
13. “How do you make eggs?”
“My mom asked my high functioning 14 y.o. son if he knew how to make (she meant cook) eggs. He said, ‘Well first you get a chicken.’
“I asked him this morning how to ‘cook’ eggs and he said ‘in a skillet.’ He isn’t wrong.” —Leah T. B.
“What planet do you live on?”
“I made the mistake of yelling at my son, ‘What planet do you live on?’ Of course, he replied ‘earth’ like I was an idiot.” —Valerie H.
11. “You can take that to the bank!”
“Son: ‘What’s a baby owl called?’
Me: ‘An owlette.’
Son: ‘Are you sure?’
Me: ‘Yes, I’d never give you the wrong information.’
Son: ‘Really sure?’
Me: ‘Yes, and you can take that to the bank!’
Son: ‘What would they give me if I did?’
Son: ‘If I took an owlette to the bank, what would they give me?’
Haha, love my boy!” —Laura K.
10. “I’ve got a frog in my throat.”
“I was sitting on the sofa next to my son one day quite a few years ago when I cleared my throat. He asked, ‘What are you doing, mummy?’ so I told him, ‘I’ve got a frog in my throat.’ He peered into my mouth and asked, ‘Where is the frog, mummy?’ So yeah, no more metaphors!” —Zoe D.
9. “It’s right in front of your nose.”
“I remember saying something was ‘right in front of your nose’ when my daughter couldn’t find something in her wardrobe. She touched her nose and then turned to me with a blank look on her face.” —Eleanor W.
8. “You don’t say!”
“My little daughter was telling me a story and I said, ‘You don’t say!’ and she was like, ‘Of course I say. I just said it.’ And I could see the end of that sentence in her eyes. It was ‘Idiot!’ LOL.” —Cindy C.
7. “Hit me with it.”
“Big regret. My daughter with autism ran out of school telling me she had something really special to tell me. So silly me [said] ‘Come on then, darlin’, hit me with it.’ So yes, she slapped my face and then proceeded to tell me. Only ever said that ONCE, LOL.” —Christine W.
6. “I’ve told you a dozen times!”
“My mom used to say, ‘I’ve told you a dozen times…’ and I would always say, ‘No, Mom, you’ve only told me 8 or 9 times.’ I just found out last year (at 46) that I’m autistic.” —Shannon H. F.
5. “You need to say sorry to Kyle.”
“There was one time that I reprimanded our son and said, ‘You need to say sorry to Kyle,’ and he said, ‘Sorry to Kyle.’ I had thought at the time he was repeating what I said back to me, but I realized later that he did exactly what I asked him to do.” —Erin S.
4. “This is special ‘girl’ chocolate.”
“I was given some Godiva chocolate for Easter from my sister-in-law and the kids were given their own baskets of Easter candy. I told them they couldn’t have mommy’s chocolate because it was special ‘girl’ chocolate. Fast forward, Davin cleans his room and wants a piece of chocolate as a reward. He picks a Hershey’s chocolate from my basket and starts to eat it. My daughter sees this and says, ‘Davin! You’re eating mommy’s special girl chocolate!’ He starts grabbing at his stomach screaming, ‘Get it out! Get it out!’ He thought he was going to turn into a girl!” —Linda D. A.
3. “You’re a good egg.
“I told my Spectrum son last week that he was a good egg. He told me I was old enough to know that he is a boy, not an egg.” —Lucretia S.
“My daughter with autism understands now but when she was little, she thought her forehead was based on her age. It became her ‘fivehead,’ ‘sixhead,’ etc. We kept explaining it to her but it took a while for her to understand. She also hates when we say things like ‘Oh come on, you guys!’ Because they’re girls. Makes sense to me.” —Lisa A.
1. “You melted my heart.”
“I told my little autism hero that he melted my heart. He immediately looked super concerned. This led to a 30 minute conversation about melted hearts, broken hearts, and how neither one is actually melting or broken, LOL. He seems to get it now.” —Whit B.
A. Stout received a Bachelor of Arts in Writing through Grand Valley State University, graduating Magna Cum Laude in 2015. In addition to being a passionate autism advocate, she is a member of various fandoms, a study abroad alumna, and an animal lover. She dreams of publishing novels and traveling all over the world someday.