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Joe90
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26 Jun 2022, 5:08 am

People here use metaphors all the time and very seldom take them literally. I think it's just a stereotype.


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Elgee
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26 Jun 2022, 9:39 am

Metaphor: I am a lioness who patrols the darkness on my nighttime walks.
Simile: I am like a lioness who patrols the darkness on my nighttime walks.

It's part stereotype that autists don't get metaphors, similies or idioms. Many autistics are professional writers. I've read their work. They use "abstract" language. I'm good at getting idioms -- save for a few. I grew up hearing "it's raining cats and dogs," and, "the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence." How does an autistic, with at least average intelligence, NOT get these when they begin hearing them in childhood?

However, the two I've always had a problem with is: "Never look a gift horse in the mouth," and "take it with a grain of salt."

What the DEVIL does the FIRST one mean?

But the second one, I eventually got it (in adulthood). But generally, you can throw me an idiom or metaphor I've never heard and I'll get it.

But there are also autistics who struggle like mad with these. So it's true: SOME (NOT ALL) autistics struggle. I recently met one who always took them literally.

However, just because an autist doesn't "get" an idiom or metaphor doesn't mean they take it literally. "Never look a gift horse," I NEVER took that literally. I always knew it was a figure of speech; same with "grain of salt."

So though an autistic may not know the meaning, they can STILL KNOW it's only a figure of speech.

I use made-up metaphors in my speech and writing ALL THE TIME! I'm even thinking that, despite having problems with two out of a hundred, my autism is what makes me good at making them up, often right on the spot. I often use analogies, which is kind of along the same lines.



Joe90
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26 Jun 2022, 10:38 am

Not understanding what a metaphor means isn't an autism trait if you aren't familiar with it, just like an NT will be if they're unfamiliar with a metaphor.

Understanding metaphors takes maturity, intellect and experience. There are some metaphors out there that I've never heard of, so I'm going to ask what it means when I first hear it.

I've actually seen NTs take a metaphor literally if they don't understand what it means.


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Lady Strange
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26 Jun 2022, 11:17 am

Yeah I understand metaphors if it has been previously explained. Also can tend to tell what one is.

I also like analogies (I think that is what it is called) when learning something new, like when my husband used an analogy of cars on a highway to explain about bandwidth.



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26 Jun 2022, 1:49 pm

When i'm nervous, absent-minded, anxious, or psychotic, i often take metaphors literally, especially when it's in verbal contact with someone.

When i am clear in my mind, i do not take metaphors literally but metaphorically. So it's not black or white for me.
I'm usually clearest of mind when i'm alone, then metaphors are a perfect way to get a glimpse of 'reality'.



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26 Jun 2022, 2:05 pm

One can decently estimate the age of a horse by looking at the teeth. To "look inside the mouth of the horse" is to assess its value (age, thus capabilities), which is considered rude & in poor taste since it's a gift.

It makes sense from the "judging a gift is rude" point-of-view. But in modern times, when things are generally more accessible & cheaper than in the past, it makes much less sense.

Elgee wrote:
"Never look a gift horse in the mouth."...

What the DEVIL does the FIRST one mean?


Caveat: I'm one of those people who will judge, & who would rather get nothing than something I'll have to fix or replace sooner than later anyway.



naturalplastic
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26 Jun 2022, 3:10 pm

Elgee wrote:
Metaphor: I am a lioness who patrols the darkness on my nighttime walks.
Simile: I am like a lioness who patrols the darkness on my nighttime walks.

It's part stereotype that autists don't get metaphors, similies or idioms. Many autistics are professional writers. I've read their work. They use "abstract" language. I'm good at getting idioms -- save for a few. I grew up hearing "it's raining cats and dogs," and, "the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence." How does an autistic, with at least average intelligence, NOT get these when they begin hearing them in childhood?

However, the two I've always had a problem with is: "Never look a gift horse in the mouth," and "take it with a grain of salt."

..

You didnt pay for the merchandise. So you dont assess it and judge it overly harshly. A HUGE number of English language expression have to do with horse.

The second expression is more obscure. The ancient Romans had this belief that salt was antidote to poison. So if your afraid an enemy was trying to poison you you "took your food with a grain of salt". It was a totally false belief.

Then 13 centuries after the fall of the Roman Empire the European elite (and the American founding fathers) of the 18th centurey were into Greco-Roman civilization, and literature. And Enlightenment figures (like Thomas Jefferson) revived the expression (even though they knew that anti poison belief was wrong), but repurposed it to mean immunity to lies rather than to literal poison.



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26 Jun 2022, 3:18 pm

I frequently think in metaphors.

When someone says a metaphor to me, I will often see it literally in my head - but this doesn't do anything beyond provide me with secret amusement. I've always known that Raining Cats and Dogs means "it's raining hard."

I communicated heavily in metaphors when I was younger. Normal age appropriate expressive speech was frustrating and difficult but I could use larger words or metaphors and communicate what I was thinking or feeling.

I only get literal when I am tired or distracted or under duress, and that's more a thing of not getting that I am being joked with.


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klanka
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26 Jun 2022, 3:30 pm

I don't think its metaphors necessarily. I think its extreme sarcasm in some cases catches out aspies, but also NT's soooo.
The other thing is misinterpreting instructions because they are taken too literally, like go take those boxes out the back, when the bins are at the side of the building an NT might just put them next to the bins but an aspie might just do it literally and get confused looks.



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26 Jun 2022, 3:52 pm

klanka wrote:
I don't think its metaphors necessarily. I think its extreme sarcasm in some cases catches out aspies, but also NT's soooo.
The other thing is misinterpreting instructions because they are taken too literally, like go take those boxes out the back, when the bins are at the side of the building an NT might just put them next to the bins but an aspie might just do it literally and get confused looks.


I never take it literally and make the wrong assumption... it's more like my brain just imagines this could mean 1000x possible things and just freezes while the person telling me the thing only means one thing by it.


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Joe90
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26 Jun 2022, 9:45 pm

It's more annoying when people assume that just because I'm on the spectrum it means I'm not going to understand any metaphors. Like one time when I was at school I was talking to a therapist or something like that, and we were on the topic of shyness and she used the phrase "coming out of your shell", and she asked if I knew what that meant before continuing, expecting me to take it literally. I said that I did know what it meant and that I didn't need it explaining to me. I was 15.


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26 Jun 2022, 9:51 pm

Joe90 wrote:
It's more annoying when people assume that just because I'm on the spectrum it means I'm not going to understand any metaphors. Like one time when I was at school I was talking to a therapist or something like that, and we were on the topic of shyness and she used the phrase "coming out of your shell", and she asked if I knew what that meant before continuing, expecting me to take it literally. I said that I did know what it meant and that I didn't need it explaining to me. I was 15.


Being talked to like that is why I don't even really tell anyone outside of my social circle that I'm autistic. I don't even want my health providers to know, and I will never transfer the records over.


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ThisTimelessMoment
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26 Jun 2022, 11:18 pm

HighLlama wrote:
I
I think it's probably more an NT view that autistic people don't get metaphors because autistic people may take those metaphors literally. But don't autistic people also tend to make what are considered "unusual" metaphors or similes? It seems to me like, because of different thinking and communicating styles, there are probably different styles of metaphor between NT and ND. Autistic people often make connections


I agree with this. I often use metaphor but seldom the stock standard ones that NTs use that are just so over used and boring. I use metaphor a bit like the author Tom Robbins. NTs have trouble understanding these metaphors as well. Or at least they have to think about it, which they don't with the stock standards. I often get a weird look. Or the blankness of incomprehension.


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naturalplastic
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27 Jun 2022, 1:41 am

ThisTimelessMoment wrote:
HighLlama wrote:
I
I think it's probably more an NT view that autistic people don't get metaphors because autistic people may take those metaphors literally. But don't autistic people also tend to make what are considered "unusual" metaphors or similes? It seems to me like, because of different thinking and communicating styles, there are probably different styles of metaphor between NT and ND. Autistic people often make connections


I agree with this. I often use metaphor but seldom the stock standard ones that NTs use that are just so over used and boring. I use metaphor a bit like the author Tom Robbins. NTs have trouble understanding these metaphors as well. Or at least they have to think about it, which they don't with the stock standards. I often get a weird look. Or the blankness of incomprehension.


What youre saying is that you "avoid cliches". Which is what any good writer should do.

I try to do that as well. In fact...I avoid cliches like the plague! I wouldnt touch a cliche with a ten foot pole! I wouldnt use a cliche ...if ya PAYED me to! :D

Joking aside though...avoiding cliches is good in text. But in spoken conversation it can be a handicap to avoid them, because, as you say, in conversation folks 'get' the cliche expression quickly, and are thrown if you make up some new novel turn of phrase on the spot.



ThisTimelessMoment
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27 Jun 2022, 2:31 am

^ :lol:


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NotHolyRomanOrAnEmpire
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27 Jun 2022, 12:13 pm

Not every autistic person has trouble with metaphors. To be honest it’s an annoying and over-prevalent mischaracterisation of autism. There are definitely autistic people who are like that but autism presents in many different ways.



Last edited by NotHolyRomanOrAnEmpire on 27 Jun 2022, 1:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.