30 translations for people who struggle with hints

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:

  1. Say what they mean
  2. 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.)

1 2 3 4 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30


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!

Chris Bonnello / Captain Quirk

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).

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