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How Do You Explain Autism to a Three Year Old?

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What is the best way to explain a disability to a 3-year-old? originally appeared on Quora - the knowledge sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights.

Answer by Rick Bruno, Retired cop, marathoner, husband/father/grandfather, on Quora:

What is the best way to explain a disability to a three year old? This is an excellent question.

It hits very close to home.

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

Uncle Danny is a fact of life, as he was when he and our other three 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 three year old, I would explain that Dan was born this way.

To which most three 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.

This question originally appeared on Quora. - the knowledge sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights. You can follow Quora on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.

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