Many individuals with Asperger's syndrome are characterized by having black-and-white thinking. This is certainly true for the one that lives at our house. His world has very few shades of gray. For that reason, jokes, sarcasm and idioms are often lost on him. For better or worse--I'm not entirely sure which--he lives with a father that derives a considerable amount of pleasure in teasing. He loves the reaction he gets from pushing the biggest buttons.
Alyssa figured her dad out long ago. She's mastered her signature eye roll which is all the reaction she'll usually give. Not much fazes that one. But he who gives the biggest reactions gets the most pestering.
Dad can't stop teasing any more than he can stop his hair from going gray, so Caleb's developing a "detector" instead. Sometimes I'll give him hints like, "Caleb, I hope your detector is going off." That's his clue that Dad is only being sarcastic. Sometimes his detector is quick to respond and he'll shout, "Sarcasm!"--with a tone that implies, "Ha! You didn't get me!" But then there's times that he'll think he's detecting sarcasm only to struggle to understand that we're really being serious. His device is not yet fine tuned but I'm actually quite proud of how far it's come.
Jon's teasing is not limited to those with poor functioning detectors. Just ask my mom. Or Natalie. Just last night, after we'd turned out all the lights, she crept into our room to say, "Daddy, my American Girl doll is downstairs and all the lights are off." In other words, "Daddy you are big and strong and brave but I am just a scared little girl who is too frightened to go downstairs by myself, won't you help me get my doll?" To which Jon replied, "Well that's because the bogeyman is downstairs walking around and he likes it dark down there." Poor thing.
Evidently Guatemalans also have poor detectors. I've heard Jon tell how he used to love to stand in the middle of a corn field and ask the natives, "Is there any corn around here?" just to see their reactions. So the message is this: if you plan to spend any amount of time with Jon, get your radar operating at optimum power.
No, Caleb's not quite ready to join the National Sarcasm Society. He'll have to keep working on the accuracy of his detector. But Dad, well, he could be the president. And I'm being serious.