Many children with autism interpret language literally and have difficulties understanding figurative speech. It is often necessary to teach the meaning of idioms (figures of speech) and then work on generalizing these idioms to everyday situations.  In order for a child to comprehend idioms, it is necessary to have an understanding of complex speech and abstract concepts.

We will be adding a new idiom each week to target.

Printable version of idiom list

Idiom of the week:

Apple of my eye = Someone who is cherished above all others.


An arm & a leg = Very expensive, a large amount of money.

All in the same boat. = When everyone is facing the same challenges/in the same situation.

All bark and no bite. = When someone is threatening/aggressive (all talk), but not willing to engage in a fight (or act on their words).

A toss-up = A result that is unclear and can go either way.

A taste of your own medicine. = When you are mistreated the same way that you mistreat others.

A slap on the wrist = A very mild punishment.

A piece of cake: A task that can be accomplished very easily.

Don't let the cat out of the bag. = Don't tell the secret. OR Don't spoil the surprise.

Fly off the handle. = To become very angry/to lose one's temper.

Let sleeping dogs lie. = Forget about it./ Leave the subject alone.

The early bird catches the worm. = The first person get the best choice/opportunity.

I saw the light. = I understood./I saw your point.

It's apples and oranges. = It's two different things.

To steal someone's thunder = To take credit for something someone else did.

Lend me you ear. = To politely ask for someone else's attention.

Scaredy-cat - Someone who's afraid.

Hanging out = Relaxing/spending time with someone.

Chill out. = Relax.

Pipe down. = Be quiet.

Shake a leg. = Hurry up.

Butt out. = Mind your own business.

Buzz off. = Leave me alone.

Reach for the stars. = Try very hard./Expect the best.

He/She is growing like a weed. = He/She is growing quickly.

Keep an eye out. = Watch carefully for someone/something.

He/She is dancing around the questions = He/She is not answering the question.

You can't tell a book by its cover. = You can't tell what a person is like from how he/she looks.

I'm like a fish out of water. = I'm uncomfortable/don't fit in.

His/Her eyes were popping out of her head. = He/She was surprised.

I'm so hungry I could eat a horse = I'm very hungry.

Break a leg = Good luck/Do a good job.

Running around like a chicken with its head cut off = Running around with many things to do and not enough time to do it.

Laughing his/her head off = Laughing very hard/for a long time.

To have ants in your pants = To be restless, not able to sit still.

You're pulling my leg. = You're teasing me.