No today. No tomorrow.


The days of the week are off limits at our house. Here is what a typical conversation might sound like if we accidentally let one of those words slip in conversation.

Me: “MIke, on Saturday can we…?

Braden: “Mommy, no Saturday!”

Me: “Sorry, Braden, no Saturday.”

Braden: “No Saturday!”

Me: “Okay, let’s talk about today.”

Braden: “No today!”

Me: “Yesterday?”

Braden: “No yesterday.”

Me: “How about Tuesday? Is Tuesday a good day to talk about?”

Braden: “No Tuesday.”

Me: “Okay, Braden. We’re going to talk about something else now. How was school today?”

Braden: “Mommy, no today.”

Me: “No today. School. How was school?”

Braden: “No Saturday.”

Me: “What did you eat for lunch?
Braden: “No Saturday.”

Me: “Mike, I was thinking…”

Braden: “Mommy, no Saturday!”

Me: “I didn’t say Saturday, I was thinking.”

Braden: “No Saturday.”

And so it goes. We try not to make the grievous error of using one of those words in conversation. But it is difficult. Today I caught myself as I was about to say the W word, Wednesday.


This is not a new phenomenon, this aversion to certain words. Some “banned” words from days gone by:

School (okay, I get that one)


Swimming (that’s a puzzle- he loves it)


Ms. Susan

Hmmm…these are all starting with S.

Airplane (oh well, there goes that theory)



Well, I think you get the idea. Sometimes certain words are simply unwanted.

I cannot begin to understand what this could be.

Several years ago I picked up the book The Reason I Jump by Naoki Higashida. If you’ve not had the opportunity to read this and autism is of interest to you, I implore you to read this book. It is my go-to guide when I want to have a better understanding of a situation.

The subtitle, “The inner voice of a thirteen-year-old with autism” sums it up. Naoki is non-verbal and communicates in writing. The book is set up in a series of questions for Naoki, which he wisely answers: “Why do you line up your toys? Why do you move your arms and legs about in that awkward way? Why are you obsessive about certain things?


It is this question, “Why are you obsessive about certain things?” that I turn to today when wondering why Braden seems to despise certain words and will seemingly obsess over them for excessive periods of time. Here is what Naoki has to say:

“We don’t obsess over certain things because we like it, or because we want to. People with autism obsess over certain things because we’d go crazy if we didn’t. By performing whatever action it is, we feel a bit soothed and calmed down” (100).

Could this be it? Could this be why Braden seems to obsess over certain words and won’t let up? I get so frustrated because I tell him, “No Saturday” or “No car” or no whatever it is he’s focused on, but he won’t stop.

According to Naoki, the obsession will eventually stop, “…One fine day, however hard we have tried to will ourselves to stop before, the obsessive action suddenly stops itself, without warning- like, ‘How come?’ Somehow our brain flashes up a GAME OVER signal. The sign works like when you’ve just guzzled down an entire bag of sweets. The need to obsess about whatever it was is all used up. When that sign appears, I feel set free, like someone who can finally put aside all of last night’s dreams.” (100).

And that is what happens at home. Suddenly the words such as airplane or shoes are okay to say after weeks of hating them.

Will tomorrow be that day for his latest obsession?

Oh, shoot. I said tomorrow.
“Mommy. No tomorrow!”
Works cited:

Higashida, Naoki. The Reason I Jump. Japan: Escor Publishers, Ltd. 2007

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