Wednesday, August 18, 2004

The ball is in her court

One of the things I liked best about Freaks, Geeks and Asperger Syndrome: A User Guide to Adolescence, a chipper account of living with Asperger's syndrome by 13-year-old Luke Jackson, was a little glossary at the end on common idioms and what on earth they mean. Expressions have always been a matter of puzzlement to my daughter, who is not on the autism spectrum but does have a great deal of trouble with language. For many years she took words at face value, and would give up when she got to a phrase that made no logical sense. Now that she's learned a little more about the confusing ways in which people speak and write, she'll ask right out: "Is that an expression?" And then the speaker will be in the sometimes tricky position of having to explain what some well-worn metaphor means, and why it does.

Jackson's glossary was a nice piece of work, and I made a copy for my girl to have on hand when confronted with confusingly colorful speech. It's sitting on her dresser now, in about the exact place she put it weeks ago, and I think that although it could be immensely helpful to her, it's also somewhat intimidating -- lots of words, for someone to whom words are not friends. So I was excited to find today, during a quick scan of a bookstore's special-needs shelves, a book called What Did You Say? What Did You Mean? by Jude Welton and Jane Telford, which not only explains expressions and their origins but provides illustrations to make the whole enterprise more language-phobe friendly. I think we'll sit down and look at one page per day, and then keep the book handy for look-ups later. I hope it will help her, but who knows; you can lead a horse to water ...

No comments: