Literally Literal

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“But Declan, they are Spiderman!  Your favorite!”


His arms jump up to his face and he pulls down at his cheeks.

“I don’t understand……”


Valentine’s Day is approaching.

Every year for Valentine’s Day Declan wants to give out his favorite “friendly neighborhood Spiderman.”

Until this year.


The first time he screamed in anguish he was riding in the base of the shopping cart at Target.  We went and looked at the Valentine’s to pick out which he would like to give out.

He was smiling really big.  Then he started to shake his head.


The conversation detailed started.  I pointed out that Spiderman erasers came with the pack.


But why?

No, no, no, NO, NOOOOO!


So, I bought the Spiderman Valentine’s for him when he was at school one day.  Figuring my or his father’s strength of persuasion would allow for the Valentines to be deemed adequate.

No, no, no, NO, NOOOOO!

Figuring that it was just the eraser he didn’t like, I happened upon Spiderman Valentines that included a pencil as a gift instead of an eraser.


I was befuddled.


“Declan, I do not understand.  You have to give Valentines to get Valentines…don’t you want to share Valentines at your Valentine’s Day party next week?”

“Uuuuuughhhhh, YES!” He lamented, head pitched back, eyes closed.

“Well, what should we do then?”

“We have to make them.”

“What do mean make them?”

“We have to MAKE them!” Declan screamed with insistence.

“Is that what the teacher said, that you have to make them?”

“YEEEEEES!” he cried, head still pitched back.

“Declan, that doesn’t mean you have to MAKE them.  That just means you need to put your Valentines together and bring them in.”


I stopped.  I realized to move past this event at school, we would be making Valentines.

“Well, what do you want to make?”

“I can’t make Valentines.  YOU have to make the Valentines!”

“You have to help!”


Scratch original thought – I now realized to move past this event at school, I would be making Valentines.

And so I did.

Declan’s teacher wanted all the kids to bring in their Valentines early, so she could prep everyone’s bags.  So I set out – to Valentine.

I am not the most crafty person by any means.  I am a person of function.  “Do you have hardwood flooring?”  Is not a question for me.  “Do you have a floor?  Okay, you’re good.”  Is more my speed.


As I was Valentining though, I got to think about the whole situation.  If the teacher, or aid, or assistant teacher – had just said, “Bring in your Valentines” I wouldn’t be crafting.

But Declan is so LITERAL.  It’s how his brain works.  He will do exactly what you say.

And will get VERY upset if he is unable to do what is EXACTLY requested.

I made the Valentine’s, I had Declan sign as many as he could, taking breaks in between.  I had the Valentine’s turned in as requested, by Friday.


And smiled when I collected his work from his back pack after school.  With the thought, “Declan is literal.  He will do EXACTLY as you say.”

Looking at his homework, I could hear the teacher instruct,

“Write the word ‘to’ 4 times on the right-hand side.  At the bottom, right the word ‘to’ 4 times on the lines.  So, when you are done, there will be 4 to’s.”



10 thoughts on “Literally Literal

  1. Perhaps not as severe but that is literally my son. He has a tendency to take what is said literally. Thankfully he doesn’t generally have meltdowns about it anymore and we can usually resolve the issue by sitting down and talking to him about what is “probably” meant by what was said.

    1. Declan has come a long way – I hope in time that we will be able to talk about this the way you are able to now with your son. Thanks Tena!

  2. Well at least it proves he listens during school! Problem for most children they do not listen. The other kids in his class will be getting special valentines from your son, each a one of a kind edition!

    1. I thought about that – if ANYONE was going to save me from making homemade Valentines, it was going to have to be the teacher. Unfortunately, I waited to long. But you are right – I will have to work with her in the future!

  3. I’ve only read about autism but have never come across anyone with it in real life. whatever I’ve read pales out in front of your daily experiences you share on your blog.

    Being literal is probably the secret behind people with autism being so precise and sharp as they don’t lose focus due to frivolous distractions, and autism turned out to be a blessing in disguise!

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