This Is How I Explain My Son’s Severe Autism To My Young Grandchildren

"How do you explain this to adults, much less children?"

by Rick Bruno
Originally Published: 
A grandfather sitting and talking to his grandson
Flickr / Juhan Sonin

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What is the best way to explain a disability to a 3-year-old?

My wife and I have a son with autism. He is 31 years old, lives at home with us, attends an adult day program in our community. He is a large man with the behavior of a 2-year-old. His behavior is sometimes frightening to my young grandchildren (now 9, 3 and 1 years old) who are often at our house. They live a block away from us.

So, Uncle Danny is a fact of life, as he was when he and our other 3 sons were children. How do you explain why some children are born with severe handicaps? How do you explain his outbursts (which are sometimes loud and violent)? How do you explain this to adults, much less children?

How do you come to terms with it on your own?

To a 3-year-old, I would explain that Dan was born this way.

To which most 3-year-olds would respond, “Why?”

“Because everybody is born different in some way. Sometimes we can see it, sometimes we can’t. Some people have brown hair, some have yellow hair or red hair. Some people are very strong, or very fast, for tall or short or boys or girls. Some people have skin that is dark, some have skin that is light. Everyone is different, and this is a very good thing. Sometimes people are born with hurts. We do not always know why this is. But they are still people, and we love them.”

Some things are hard to explain. And some explanations have to evolve.

Rick Bruno is a father to 4 sons. Read more from Quora below:

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