Melania Trump May Sue Over Claims That Barron Has Autism

November 29th 2016

Laura Donovan

Future First Lady Melania Trump is threatening to file a lawsuit over a viral YouTube video claiming that her son, Barron, might have autism, Us Weekly reported on Monday.


"A video was posted at YouTube recently speculating that Barron might be autistic. He is not,” attorney Charles J. Harder of Harder Mirell & Abrams LLP told Us Weekly in an interview published Monday. "The video includes the hashtag ‘StopTheBullying’ but yet the video itself is bullying by making false statements and speculation about a 10-year-old boy for the purpose of harassing him and his parents. The online bullying of children, including Barron Trump, should end now.”

On Tuesday, James Hunter, who originally posted the video, fulfilled his promise to delete it. He also said he would issue an apology to Melania and the Trump family.

The video cites Barron's behavior at public events as reasoning for why he might have autism: he appeared anti-social and didn't smile at the Republican National Convention, clapped his hands in an erratic way at a political event, and was restless in his seat during a political event:


Whether intentional or not, this video perpetuates the notion that you can diagnose autism just by identifying certain actions, such as anti-social or socially awkward behavior.

Tristram H. Smith, Ph.D., a professor of neurodevelopmental and behavioral pediatrics at the University of Rochester Medical Center, told ATTN: in a May interview that only specialists can diagnose someone with autism. When ATTN: asked Smith if there are any specific signs that someone definitely has autism, he said the "short answer is no." He said that there are certain signs of autism — struggling with social functioning, arbitrary obsessions, and severe reactions to routine changes — but that only professionals can determine whether someone has it.

In speaking to Smith, ATTN: pointed out that some people, such as comedian Jerry Seinfeld, casually claim that they may be on the autism spectrum without the confirmation of an autism expert. Smith said that such an attitude contributes to the many "misunderstandings about what autism is."

"To have people kind of shooting off the hip and saying that somebody has autism or that they themselves has autism adds to those misunderstandings," he said. "So that is a problem, I think."