See you later

When someone says to me, “see you later”, I am not sure if that meant goodbye or see you later during the day. I have often read that individuals with Asperger’s Syndrome (AS) tend to take things literally. Whenever I read this, I find it amusing to imagine that a person with AS would literally act it out when someone says, “pull your socks up”, “give me a ring later” or “you are pulling my legs”. If I hear idioms such as “it is raining cats and dogs” or “run around like a chicken with its head cut off”, my mind would pop up with images of cats and dogs falling from the sky and a headless chicken running about.

I understand that individuals with AS can be confused by idioms or figures of speech. After I learned that “see you later” actually means goodbye, I stop keeping a lookout for that person during the day or think that that person would come knocking at my door before midnight. What I do not understand however is this: don’t all people (AS or not) get confused when they come across an idiom or metaphor they’ve not heard of the first time? And don’t people with AS, after understanding the true meaning of an idiom or metaphor, not learn from their mistakes? Sometimes, I have what I call a double confusion when someone with AS talks about this problem and uses idioms by way of examples. I am never sure if that is some sort of parody, whether it is meant to be a joke or to be taken seriously. It is a commonly mentioned characteristic of AS and seems to be one of the topics people with AS like to talk about so I wonder how prevalent this problem is.

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