By Sarah “Mouse” Scharfenaker and Tracy Stackhouse
“Jeff, what did you do at school today?”
“Did Mrs. Miller give you any homework?”
“Where’s your lunchbox?”
“Did you talk nicely in speech therapy?”
Does any of the above sound familiar? To us, it sounds like the typical series of questions parents ask their children at the end of most every school day.
How does your child respond to these questions? Children with Fragile X syndrome will most likely not respond to them directly, but may instead respond with one of the following:
- Avoid all eye contact and walk away.
- Start talking about their favorite cooking show on TV.
- Answer the last question asked with a simple yes or no.
- Repeat the most relevant word in the last question, “Speech? Speech therapy, not today…not going!”
Parents usually ask their children questions to get information or to simply engage them in conversation. In the case of a child with FXS, asking direct questions is the least likely way to accomplish either of these goals.
Interestingly, it’s not that different at Developmental FX, where the end of the day often sounds like this:
“Mouse, where are you going? Are you leaving early? Are you going to work on your garden? Can you get me that report before you leave?”
It turns out that direct questions don’t work well with Mouse either!
Direct questions are typically the way we try to engage people in conversation. For children with FXS, we need to learn other strategies. It is critical to understand why it is so difficult for children with FXS to understand and respond to these questions, before we get to the how of getting answers.