Josh tends to take things very literally. As a speech therapist, I have worked with him over the years to help him recognize and understands figures of speech, proverbial statements, metaphors, and to make inferences from what he hears and reads. He has gotten better, although he still tends to take things literally unless it is a familiar phrase or concept. He has also progressed in his problem solving skills, using logic and past experience as a guide.
I am usually glad to see him try to reason things out on his own, but once when I wanted him to follow a direction literally he went in another direction. I had found a recipe for making omelets in a zip-loc bag. It was recommended for families because each member could put the ingredients they preferred into a zip-loc bag and then boil the bags until the omelet was cooked. Then each person could have an omelet exactly as he or she liked it, and it could slide from the bag onto a plate for serving. This sounded like a good idea to me, so I decided to try it out. I mixed up an omelet, put it in a zip-loc bag, and put on a large pot of water to boil. A few minutes later as I worked in another room, I called to Josh in the kitchen to see if the water was boiling. He said it was, so I asked him, “Would you please put the zip-loc bag into the water for me?” His reply was the usual, “Sure!” About five minutes later, I went to check on my omelet, and to my dismay I saw that the bag had leaked and there were rivulets of egg and other ingredients floating around like some sort of disgusting soup. Then I realized that the bag was not leaking…there was no bag! Josh had opened it up and dumped everything in the water. He remembered me saying to put the bag in the water, but that didn’t make sense to him and I had never asked him to boil anything in a bag before. So, he reasoned that I must really mean to empty the bag’s contents into the pot. For future reference, I encouraged him to ask for clarification if I was giving him a direction that didn’t make sense to him.
More recently, I handed Josh a jar of salsa, a bowl for the salsa, a bag of chips, and a bowl for the chips. I asked him to put the salsa in its bowl and put the bag of chips into the other bowl. He said the usual, “Sure” and proceeded to put the salsa into the bowl. I continued on with other things and Josh finished what he was doing and wandered off to play on the computer. I had to laugh when I saw a full, unopened bag of tortilla chips inside a large bowl. I showed it to Josh and asked if that was really his idea of putting the chips in the bowl. He grinned sheepishly and said he just “spaced out” on that one. I am choosing to believe that’s the truth.