It’s a “Piece of Cake” to explain idioms to children with Asperger Syndrome. Actually, it’s not, but it can be fun anyway.
Idioms are phrases that don’t make a lot of sense if you think about them literally – which many children with Asperger Syndrome tend to do. Maybe you are “a doubting Thomas,” who needs physical or personal evidence to believe you can teach your child about idioms. Ultimately you need to explain idioms so your son can be “on the same page” as the rest of the world.
Some of the idioms I will explain are just “A Drop in the Bucket” or small part of what’s out there.
Here are some tips for teaching your child with Asperger Syndrome about idioms:
No. 1: When you use an idiom, give a brief definition of it as well. For example, “A leopard can’t change his spots and a person can’t change who they are.” You can also transition from the idiom to your definition by saying, “In other words…”
No. 2: Sometimes your child with Asperger Syndrome will want to know the reason for a specific part of the idiom. For example, with the idiom, “A picture paints a thousand words,” your child may ask, “Why a thousand? Why not one hundred?” In this case your answer could be clarified by looking up the origin of the saying. The idiom is from an original quotation by Frederick R. Barnard in Printer’s Ink, 8 Dec 1921 – retelling a Chinese proverb. It comes from the original quote, “One look is worth a thousand
No. 3: Explain superstitions. Once you start explaining idioms you may feel as though you “Bit off more than you could chew,” with such a daunting task, especially when the idiom is saying the opposite of the literal meaning. For example, “Break a leg,” means good luck even though it sounds like a nasty thing to wish upon someone. You can explain the idea of superstitions with specific idioms such as “Break a leg,” and “Knock on wood,” which is another superstitious behavior to avoid bad luck.
No. 4: Some idioms may frighten a younger child with Asperger Syndrome or even a typical child. “Beat a dead horse,” “Chew someone out,” “Curiosity killed the cat,” “Lend me your ear,” “Like a chicken with its head cut off,” “Over my dead body,” “Turn a blind eye” “Wear your heart on your sleeve,” all sound painful or scary. Make sure you have explained these kind of idioms to your child at as early of an age as possible so he doesn’t think the world is that weird!
No. 5: “Last but not least,” don’t assume your son gets the idioms you use just because he does not stop to ask. Don’t “pass the buck” or avoid your responsibility to explain idioms. Just use it as a chance to bond and have fun!
If you aren’t sure what an idiom means visit a Web site such as http://www.idiomsite.com/. After you learn the literal translation of the saying, look up the origin with your son. Sometimes that will give you clues and sometimes it will just make the saying seem even more absurd.
Remember it’s all a bunch of “Mumbo Jumbo” nonsense to your son until you break it down.
Now you “Know the Ropes,” or understand the details of how to explain idioms to your son with Asperger Syndrome. On a more serious note, some idioms will annoy the heck out of your son. Try to be respectful and limit the use of them once he gets it. After all, you don’t need to beat a dead horse. (Sorry I could not resist).