On Quora someone asked if people with Asperger’s understand the word “Taboo”.  I gave a brief answer there, but I thought I’d follow it up here, especially because I have NVLD, not AS.

For me, understanding the word “taboo” is not a problem.  But you have to tell me and you have to be specific.  Tell me what behavior is taboo in what circumstances and I will certainly try not to engage in that behavior in those circumstances.

But … the NT world wants us to intuit the taboos of their society.  They don’t tell us.  We’re just supposed to figure it out. For the strongest taboos, we manage (or I do).  Perhaps the very strongest taboo is against cannibalism. Ick. Yet we were not told “don’t eat people” – we just figured it out.

But there are many taboos and some of them just slip right by me.  Then I offend people without meaning to.

What’s your experience?  Tell me in the comments.


  1. Susan Blumberg says

    This one is huge! I had to teach my DD (ASD, NLD) that you didn’t say a person is fat, or ugly, even if it was true, out loud to the person’s face, despite the taboo against lying. White lies to smooth social interaction are difficult to teach! How to eat in public, how to manage behavior in public places , etc etc. Taboo wasn’t a word we used, but we said, public behavior vs private.

  2. Yes. The rules are tricky for us. We need to be told what they are.

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