“Why” is not easy to answer

Children with autism have a hard time answering “why” questions. “Why” something happens is an abstract concept and they struggle with it.

Today, we had a small group of special needs children in the gym at church. They were playing ball and of course, because it’s a gym, sound is amplified. It was very noisy. Peter left and made his way to the foyer and I followed.

Me: Peter, what’s wrong?

Peter: I’m going to stay out here.

Me: Why?

Peter: I’m going to stay out here.

Me: Okay, how about this. Can you finish the sentence? I want to stay in the lobby because…(?)

Peter: because it’s noisy in the gym.

Yay! I was so excited because he has such a hard time with answering “why” questions. It really is a challenge and has led to some funny situations. Once, a few years ago,  Peter was up in his room crying. I went up to find out what had happened to upset him and asked why he was crying.

Me: Peter, you are crying because…(?)

Peter: I’m angry.

Me: Okay. “I’m angry” because…(?)

Peter: Because I’m crying.

This went on for well over five minutes. Back and forth, back and forth–Peter crying the whole time. I finally decided that we weren’t going to get anywhere with the conversation we were having and I needed to distract him with another activity.

I never did find out why he was crying and sometimes, after events like these, the puzzle remains. But everyday, we move forward just a little more.

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