An Autism Diary

A day in the life of David Hartley

Say that again?

It's raining what mom??

It’s raining what mom??

“It’s raining cats and dogs.”  “She’s over the hill.”  “Don’t count your chickens before they hatch.”  “He’s been under the weather.”

Chances are, most of you have heard a version of these phrases and others like them many times over.  You may have even used them yourselves.  And chances are, you understood what was trying to be said and the thought the speaker was trying to get across.

We use and encounter so many of these catch phrases and similar figures of speech in our everday lives that it is almost as natural to our language as sneaking that last cookie off the plate is for a child.  Yet, when Autism enters your world, these same phrases that we have all grown so accustomed to start to take on a whole new meaning as well as a lot of humor.  And you start to find out how often you really resort to using various figures of speech in place of just speaking straight. 😉

S4010013 NEWBoth of my boys struggle with communication and this tends to take it’s funniest form when I forget to watch my words and start using metaphors, similies, and/or the like in my communications with them.  Even though Joshua is the most rigid in his thinking, David definitely takes the cake so to speak in this area simply by the way he chooses to respond when he gets confused.  Where as Joshua just totally ignores me or gets cranky and mad, David starts trying to figure out what I just said and innocently “corrects” me.

Some of my favorite examples over the last year and a half (David hasn’t been able to talk for very long) are as follows (David’s responses are cleaned up so as to be understood.  Most of his speech is still pretty fragmented and difficult to understand unless he’s repeating memorized statements or phrases):

Mom: “You get out of that time-out one more time and your butt is grass”
(meaning: you’re going to be in a lot of trouble)

David: (gets up and turns his head to try and see his bottom) “Mom, my butt is not grass.”


Mom: “Don’t say that David.  Just get it out of your head.”
(was trying to get him redirected from some self-condeming when he hadn’t even done anything wrong)

David: (Bends over and starts feeling around on top of his head.  Upon not finding anything up there, proceeds to show me his head) “I don’t have anything in my head.  See?  It’s not in my head.  Is it in my hair?” (starts to examine his hair with his hands)


Mom: “Brrrr…!  It’s as cold as ice out there!”

David: “Ice?!  What ice?  Where’s the ice?!  I want some ice!”


Mom: “Just hold your horses already!”
(meaning: please be patient)

David: response 1: “Horses? But I don’t have any horses.  Are we going to go see the horses?!?!? :D”

response 2: Okay.  (proceeds to go pick up all his toy horses and hold them)


Silly boys 16Mom: “You’re digging a hole, David.”
(meaing: you’re making it worse)

David: “I’m not digging a hole!”
(he’s thinking of dirt and shovels here lol)


Mom: “You’re such a monkey.”
(refferring to his constant climbing and sometimes his sillyness or excessive hyperness)

David: “I am NOT a monkey!  I’m a boy!  Silly Mommy.”


Mom: “Kids?  Get back in here please!”
(I know this is speaking plain, but David’s response was still pretty funny. : ) )

David: “We are NOT kids!  We’re boys!”


Any of you have some favorite catch phrases or other figures of speech you would like to share?  I would love to hear some. 🙂


  1. We had a cat whose name was Lucky. One day I said to Bethany, “Aren’t you Lucky?” Her reply was, “I’m not the cat!”

  2. Kids can be so amusing!

    • definitely so : ) I know David keeps my sense of humor alive and well for sure : )

  3. caffieneplease

    How cute!!!

    We were in rush to go somewhere, and I told CJ, “Hurry up and hop in the car!”. I finished loading the car, and noticed he wasn’t in his seat. I saw that CJ had his door open, jumping up and down.

    His response to “Hold your horses!” was, “What are you talking about, Mama? I don’t have any horses!!”

    • so cute lol thanks for sharing 🙂

  4. A young chap I was minding once was being “rather difficult” He was 6. I said come now stop being a “whinge bucket”. You are the one who is the bucket he retorted. I am going to take you to the beach and put sand in you!

    • oh dear lol A bit of an attitude problem with that one huh?

      On a side note, can you help me understand your original phrase? “whinge bucket”?

      • Perhaps they are native to Australia. A “whinge bucket”is a Person who whines and complains a great deal about everything. Maybe there are not people like that in America……..? I suspect there are.

      • oh there are lol and now I have a term for it. thanks 🙂

      • LOL, you learn something new everyday….

        I had heard the term “whine bucket” before, but my puzzlement (and I’d imagine Cindi’s as well) is with the word “Whinge”, which I had never heard of before, and seems to be exclusive to Britain and Australia. Here, we just call it whining, and I know how to do that very well… 🙂

      • lol : )

  5. I enjoyed reading the “wordsmith” link as I love reading about word origins . I had no idea Americans didn’t whinge and only whined. Here people whinge AND whine. In my student days we used to have a “Whine and Cheese” party where everyone had drinks and nibbles and complained at length. Fair Dinkum (I am not making that up!)
    To be fair though Aussies are a pretty stoic and resourceful lot on the whole (when they aren’t whinging” HaHa.

  6. Christi Ritchie

    Cameron has similar responses to David’s. I call him monkey boy all of the time and hear “I’m not a monkey, I’m a boy”! When I say “Are you ready Fred?”, it’s “No, my name is Cameron.” After several weeks of waiting on his response regarding what he wanted for dinner and jokingly telling him I was going to make him “frog guts and lizard brains”, a lightbulb went on and Cam said “Mom, are you teasing me?!” Then he finally started laughing at it. Since that time, on occasion when I ask him what he wants to eat, Cam will reply “frog lips and lizard brains” (he apparently heard “lips” when I said “guts”)! That was an awesome breakthrough! 😉

    • lol those are great 🙂 and wonderful news on him picking up on the joke and using it back. 🙂 That has to be fun : )

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