Is this red or is this a car?

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This story is taken from the book My Unique Child: A Practical Guide to Raising A Child with Autism. Ellen’s full name has been withheld to protect the identity of the family.

Ellen’s autistic son is now a teenager. She recounts the earlier years.

When my son was younger and having early intervention, we went to see a speech therapist. The therapist brought out two toy cars, one red and one blue. She asked my son for the blue car, but he kept taking the red car. I couldn’t understand why—he is not colour blind, so why was he taking the red car?

I realised later that the concept of colour is very abstract. It’s not easy to teach.

I was so happy when he got the colours right. He could name colours like yellow, green and he could differentiate between colours, but instead of telling me that a toy car was a car, he said, “This is blue.” I would tell him that it is a blue car, but he would say, “Blue. Give me blue.” Thinking back, it was really funny.

If he wanted a packet of chrysanthemum tea on the table, he would say “Yellow. I want yellow.”

He was using colours to name things and we had to correct him. It took us a while before he got it right.


Read more stories like this in the book My Unique Child: A Practical Guide to Raising A Child with Autism.

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VoicesJasmine Goh