The Life Autistic: A Walking, Talking Dictionary

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“He’s very well versed in the language arts, but that can make it difficult for him to be concise at times; or at the very least, it can be a bit distracting. Jokingly, I feel like I have to have a dictionary close by when he has the microphone.”

Second-hand feedback from a friend? Paid review from a life-coach? Psychological assessment?


Ever met someone who rattles off ten-dollar words, like a prolix braggodocio overreaching to project a modicum of erudition to . . . crap, I’ve done it again, haven’t I? 

If you’ve had the misfortune of listening to me long enough, you’ll hear me drop some sesquipedalian gem, some bloated word or other arcane, esoteric phrase. But it’s not some kind of semantic showoff, I swear!

It’s the autism talking, for many reasons simple and complex.

If I had a nickel for every time I was pegged to be “trying to sound smart,” I’d have a lot of nickels.

♫ I like big words, and I cannot lie. ♫

It’s that simple. There’s no front, no show, no putting on airs to trick people into making me look intellectual.

I enjoy the variety our language provides. I’m intrigued by new ways to say old things. I’m enriched by adding different colors to the vocabulary palette. It’s like practicing something new, toying and teasing with phonaesthetics, sounding out syllables to make intricate the mundane. I talk enough as is – why not make it enjoyable (for me, anyway)?

But that’s exactly what runs me aground at times. 

When I’m afraid of being dismissed as an awkward weirdo, hey, maybe I can be the smart awkward weirdo. Or if I need to gain some comfort in a conversation, where I fear my voice won’t be heard, hey, why not speak in a way where I’m comfortable? 

It might be nice knowing at least two synonyms for “purple” or not needing a thesaurus in a pinch.

But that quote above?

It was from one of my annual reviews.

At work.

A review that, y’know, dictates promotion and pay. And word choices that always tilted toward the upsized section of the menu? That didn’t help.

Big words, bigger problems. 

I can’t always “switch off” who I am. Please, do be patient: if I didn’t care about you or your audience, I wouldn’t be speaking. Just give me a little time to work my way out of the dictionary and into the thesaurus for you.


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