First Lady Melania Trump’s son, Barron Trump, 13, has been sparking unfounded speculations that he "falls on the autism spectrum".
In an article for the Santa Monica Observer, journalist Samuel Alioto described the currently 13-year-old son of US President Donald Trump and Melania Trump as “fidgety and socially awkward”, reported the International Business Times.
While acknowledging there’s been no proof to support that Barron Trump has any sort of health condition, the reporter is cited as saying that “evidence is mounting”, pointing to specific mannerisms, observing how Barron refuses to speak or shake hands, and emphasising the US president’s parental age - 60.
Alioto is reported as referencing a tweet and remarks during a campaign debate by Donald Trump about seeing a two-year-old become autistic after receiving vaccinations that some speculated was about Barron.
“It’s all over social media”, according to the journalist.
In an incident dating to 2016, actress Rossie O’Donnell had wondered if Barron Trump was autistic, as she shared a video posted by YouTube user James Hunter that featured footage of 10-year-old Barron “clapping erratically” at his father's acceptance speech and campaign events.
"Barron Trump Autistic? if so - what an amazing opportunity to bring attention to the AUTISM epidemic", she wrote in a tweet with a link to the video.
The controversial tweet, however, sparked the ire of Melania Trump.
The First Lady, who tries to shield Barron from the media spotlight, accused the actress of bullying her then 10-year-old son and threatened to sue O’Donnell, who by then had deleted her tweet.
The actress issued an apology, explaining her personal observations and the subsequent tweet had come after her own daughter was diagnosed with autism.
“I apologize to Melania Trump – I was insensitive in my RT – I am sorry for the pain I caused – it was not my intent – I am truly sorry", O’Donnell tweeted.
i apologize to @MELANIATRUMP - i was insensitive in my RT - i am sorry for the pain i caused - it was not my intent - i am truly sorry -— ROSIE (@Rosie) December 1, 2016
James Hunter, who later deleted the YouTube video he had posted, issued an apology, saying he himself was on the autism spectrum, and therefore made the clip in a bid to end the online bullying he was witnessing across social media.
“As someone who was diagnosed at age 5 and has gone through bullying myself, I would NEVER do something like that", Hunter wrote in an update within the video’s description box.
“I made this because I truly believed Barron was on the spectrum, and I wanted people to stop bullying him over his ‘weird’ behavior and explain to them that it might actually be due to a condition".
Speculations regarding Barron Trump along these lines started during Donald Trump’s election campaign.
Later, President Trump shared his thoughts regarding the connection between vaccines and autism, feeding rumours that he was talking about his own son at that time.
“Autism has become an epidemic. Twenty-five years ago, 35 years ago, you look at the statistics, not even close. It has gotten totally out of control. I am totally in favor of vaccines. But I want smaller doses over a longer period of time", said Trump said during a CNN Republican debate in 2015.