Disclaimer: this article contains a lot of tongue-in-cheek humour that’s not to be taken seriously. And if I know anything about the internet, there are people out there who will take this tongue-in-cheek humour the wrong way. Readers are advised to concentrate on enjoying the article, rather than seeing it as a judgemental critique of humankind!
If you’re anything like me- particularly the bit about being on the autism spectrum- you may have trouble getting hints. You may prefer (and even naturally expect) people to:
Say what they mean
Mean what they say.
Unfortunately, the general population has a peculiar tradition of using words that don’t match their thoughts. Sometimes they are even known to say the complete opposite of what they mean (even in a non-sarcastic sense), with the expectation on us to interpret the thoughts in their head, rather than the words from their mouth.
But worry no more! Today I bring you a short translation project, which should help some of you navigate the (figurative) waters of people’s non-literal words.
So, here we go!
(2021 edit: Oh, and apologies for the use of the puzzle pieces in these pictures. I wrote this way back in 2015 before I realised – and before society started to realise – the problematic nature of using the puzzle piece to represent autism. Even autistic advocates have to evolve and progress as the years go on.)
2019 edit– important note about #26. In the time this article’s been up, a few followers have kindly given me some insight into why this question is asked. Often it’s about reassurance rather than a literal question- the person wearing the dress may believe it looks pretty enough, but feel nervous about what everyone else is going to think. Reassurance from a second person often gives them the confidence they need to wear it comfortably in public.
No doubt there are a hundred more little hints that I missed. Feel free to share them in the comments!
Underdogs, a near-future dystopia series where the heroes are teenagers with special needs, is a character-driven war story which pitches twelve people against an army of millions, balancing intense action with a deeply developed neurodiverse cast.
Chris Bonnello is a national and international autism speaker, available to lead talks and training sessions from the perspective of an autistic former teacher. For further information please click here (opens in new window). Autistic Not Weird on Facebook