Oct. 23, 2008 -- Question: What are common differences in the way a person on the autism spectrum might have trouble understanding symbolic language concepts?
Answer: Sometimes, it is the case that even the most verbal and capable and competent person with autism has difficulty understanding different meanings of words. So, there's a story in the literature about a child who couldn't learn to tell time when the hands on the clocks were actually called hands. They had to be called sticks because the child got confused between hands on a clock and hands on a person. There are often difficulties understanding word play or subtle jokes that involve using understanding different meanings of words. There's a different ability to use language and understand language in a flexible way.