What’s Wrong With Him?

“What’s wrong with him?” – ask the kids in the playground when my son refuses to play with them.

“What’s wrong with him?” – asks my uncle when my son refuses to eat anything but dry cereal.

“What’s wrong with him?” – asks my aunt when my son jumps around¬† because there are too many people in a new environment.

“What’s wrong with him?” – asks my cousin when my son throws a tantrum because he was up too late the night before and was up too early the next morning.

“What’s wrong with him?” – asks his father when my son hides his face, closes his eyes and refuses to talk to him.

“What’s wrong with him?” – asks/thinks ____ when my son ___ .

I think you get the drift. You’ve probably heard the same thing. You can probably fill in the blanks with your own version.

There are times that I (try to) answer as intelligently as I can. I take the time to educate about why this physically typical child is not like most children. I explain that he is not being rude or weird or spoiled. He is not hyper because he had too much sugar. He does not close his eyes because he is shy. He does not say the same thing over and over and over because he’s obnoxious. Rather, he has autism and pervasive developmental delays. As a result of that, he doesn’t talk like other 7 year old kids. Until recently, his speech is more of an echo. Smart as he is, he couldn’t articulate his thoughts. He is hypo-responsive to proprioceptive input and seeks it more than his peers (meaning he has no sense of appropriate body space, among other things).

There are those times that I just smile and ignore the question, hoping they would just go away. These are when I’m either too exhausted to explain or simply too tired of the questions.

Then there are those other times that something in me just bristles at being asked at all, at the implication that something is wrong with my child just because he does not fit the mold. I mean, seriously? He is smart, with a memory of an elephant,¬† funny, compassionate and has the faith that can move mountains so no, I don’t think there is anything wrong with him.

How about you? How have you dealt with this question?

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