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What's a polite way to ask what is wrong with someone?

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What's a polite way to ask what is wrong with someone?

Postby barris49 » Thu Sep 15, 2011 8:02 pm

We just moved to a new area, and one of my brother's new friends has something wrong with him, but I can't figure out what.

This guy is 15 and looks and acts normal in every way except when he speaks. I'm not trying to be mean, but his voice sounds exactly like our old neighbor's who had Downs. This guy doesn't have the bulging forehead or act under his age though. My brother's friend also speaks really inappropriately loud and people have to tell him to SHH.

He can't seem to form sentences and talks with his hands a lot. He mimes when he needs something and he and my brother make a lot of shapes with one hand to each other that I think might be spelling out words with the shapes representing letters.

I don't think this guy is mentally retarded. I see him at regular school and he is in one of my study halls. It seems like he's doing regular stuff and doesn't have a teacher or anyone helping him like the mentally challenged do. He also plays video games and reads books like the Lord of the Rings.

I don't want to be a dick and ask what's wrong with him when I haven't even really met him. I'm also afraid it's something like a brain tumor that will make me feel really bad to have asked.

Is is a sign of autism or what? I've heard people with autism are smart but don't speak well.
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What's a polite way to ask what is wrong with someone?

Postby marx » Thu Sep 15, 2011 8:10 pm

Could be a speech impediment, or maybe he just has an unusual way of speaking. Some people with autism have speech issues, but that alone doesn't indicate autism.

There isn't really a polite way to ask someone if they have a condition, especially if you hardly know the person. If he doesn't have a disorder, he'll probably be embarrassed. If he does have a disorder, asking him could make him uncomfortable; he might not want to lie about it but not want to tell you, either. Asking other people about it is disrespectful because it's his business. He should get to choose whether or not to disclose a diagnosis, if he has one.

Since nothing he's doing seems to affect you, my advice is to just let it go.
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What's a polite way to ask what is wrong with someone?

Postby avram » Thu Sep 15, 2011 8:17 pm

Ask your brother what condition the guy has. There really isn't a polite way to ask, you might try getting to know him and it may come up. Just have patience with him and correct him politely when he says something inappropriate or loudly and then for the most part, just really treat him like you would treat others.
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What's a polite way to ask what is wrong with someone?

Postby chadburne » Thu Sep 15, 2011 8:24 pm

I think you should stay out of it you don't NEED to know what is wrong with him. but if you really wanna know I suggest you ask your brother not him you might hurt his feelings or make it awkward between you two
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What's a polite way to ask what is wrong with someone?

Postby jamieson » Thu Sep 15, 2011 8:29 pm

I think you should stay out of it you don't NEED to know what is wrong with him. but if you really wanna know I suggest you ask your brother not him you might hurt his feelings or make it awkward between you two
I can't imagine why you don't just ask your brother.
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What's a polite way to ask what is wrong with someone?

Postby pfesssley2 » Thu Sep 15, 2011 8:39 pm

"What's wrong with you?"
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What's a polite way to ask what is wrong with someone?

Postby arledge » Thu Sep 15, 2011 8:42 pm

Ask your brother what the story is (it's less polite, but it's also less awkward). Barring that, say something like "pardon me, but I couldn't help but notice you speak with an odd inflection, might I ask if there's a story behind that?"

Honestly from what I'm hearing it sounds like it could be autism, it could just be a speech impediment, but my best guess is that he's partially or totally deaf and can read lips.
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